It’s been a busy but productive week so far.  The good news is it is only Wednesday too!

Facebook – General – Guest Post on Wild Words Website

A reminder from yesterday of my post on Bridget Holding’s Wild Words website.  Lovely to guest blog.  Many thanks, Bridget.  I met Bridget at Swanwick Writers’ Summer School earlier this year and loved her talk on finding your voice.  It took me a long time to find mine.  As for writing rituals which I discuss in this post, it took me a while to work out what best suited me.  I’m a night owl type of writer.  What type are you?  Comments welcome!  (And, before you ask, I don’t hoot!).

Likewise, do send comments in on writing rituals you’ve found useful.  A chief one of mine is to always write first.  If I have any editing to do, I get on with that later into my writing session.  I like to get the creative work down first.  (Incidentally editing can be creative too but not in the same way).

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Facebook – General – Publication News

Busy day online. Firstly my monthly post for More than Writers, the Association of Christian Writers blog, is up on site. I talk about some of the joys in the Christian life.

Secondly, I have a new flash piece up on Cafelit, with more to follow soon. I’ve experimented with the form a little bit in that tonight’s story is a flash tale told in rhyme. Fun do to (and a challenge!). See

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

It is a joy to write fiction and non-fiction, though the first has always been what has “called” to me the most. I’ve always had a love of stories and always will though it is great that now a lot of fiction techniques are being used to make non-fiction work more accessible to people. Long gone are the days of long lists of dates and figures… now we look at how people would have lived back in the days of whenever. A much better approach.

I would hope flash fiction would also be a way to convince the die-hard non-fiction only reader (and I’ve known a couple in my time) that you can enjoy storytelling. And that it can be kept to the point like any good non-fiction article.

I love flash for its brevity, for the way it makes me write tightly, and for those moments that you know make a story but are too short for a standard length competition.  Flash fiction gives those stories an outlet.


To come:-

Talking of non-fiction, my Chandler’s Ford Today post for this week will be a look back at the Winchester Discovery Event last weekend.

Another flash fiction piece by me should be up on Cafelit tomorrow too.



Facebook – General – Mixing Up Your Reading

Do you mix up your reading or do you find you are reading in one genre in a go?

I read across a reasonable number of genres but find I’m one of those readers who have to have their “fix” of crime fiction for a while before then going on to have a “fix” of fantasy stories before coming back to crime, moving on to historical fiction and so on.

I zig-zag all over the place at times, though I love all that I read (which I think is the most important thing. With never as much time to read as I would like, I want to make sure all I do read is going to pass the will-it-entertain-or-inform-me-or-do-both test before I get too far into the book. I’m glad to say I’ve only abandoned one or two books in my time and that several years ago. I realise now life is too short to waste on a book that simply isn’t gripping me when there are thousands out there that will!).

Facebook – General Part 2 – Publication and Events

I think I can say it’s been a good week so far. Am delighted to report a post I wrote on my writing rituals is now up on Bridget Holding’s Wild Words site. I met Bridget at Swanwick this year and loved her talk on finding your voice.

A Writing Ritual: Allison Symes

Image used for Wild Words and my post on A Writing Ritual.  Many thanks to Bridget Holding for hosting me.

Also glad to say I will be having new stories on Cafelit very soon (indeed two are due on there this week). Will keep you posted. Lovely to have work on there again. It is a fabulous place to showcase your writing.

Also looking forward the Bridge House/Cafelit/Chapeltown Books celebratory event on Saturday.


Some of the books I’ve appeared in and FLTDBA of course. Image by Allison Symes

Love the cover for this. Image supplied by Bridge House Publishing.

My last Bridge House story is in here. Naturally I hope there will be many more to come! Image supplied by Bridge House Publishing.

Very pleased to have appeared in these lovely books.


Hope there will be more anthologies in the New Year.



Busily finishing off the follow-up to From Light to Dark and Back Again.



Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

It took me a while to get the title for From Light to Dark and Back Again right. Funnily enough, I usually find titles for the stories themselves not too difficult to come up with but coming up with something for the collection was more problematic. It was when I decided to focus on the theme and tone of the stories that the title came to me, as it does reflect the mood of the tales well.

With the title sorted out, I could then focus on an appropriate cover image to send to Chapeltown. The wonderful ripple picture comes from the magnificent Pixabay website and Chapeltown then put their fabulous frame around it. It’s a cover I’m very proud to be associated with as people DO judge the book by the cover!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again Part 2

Some new flash fiction pieces from me will be appearing on Cafelit soon. Will keep you posted!

Am also glad to share the link to Bridget Holding’s Wild Words website where she has hosted a post from me about my writing rituals.

It is a joy to write fiction and non-fiction, though the first has always been what has “called” to me the most. I’ve always had a love of stories and always will though it is great that now a lot of fiction techniques are being used to make non-fiction work more accessible to people. Long gone are the days of long lists of dates and figures… now we look at how people would have lived back in the days of whenever. A much better approach.

I would hope flash fiction would also be a way to convince the die-hard non-fiction only reader (and I’ve known a couple in my time) that you can enjoy storytelling. And that it can be kept to the point like any good non-fiction article.


Facebook – General

What is your favourite book and why? What I read depends on my mood when I’m reading so I can’t possibly have one overall favourite. I’ve chosen below one from each major character when an author has several in their canon. A good way of squeezing more books in!

I’ve also deliberately chosen books from deceased authors. I love a wide range of contemporary writers too but thought for this post I’d take a look back at some of the books that have developed my love of reading (and ad a result my love for writing too).

Historical Fiction – The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey

Agatha Christie Novel – Murder on the Orient Express (Poirot)/The Secret Adversary (Tommy and Tuppence)/Nemesis (Miss Marple).

Terry Pratchett Discworld Series – Men At Arms (Vimes Series)/ Raising Steam (Moist von Lipvig)/Maskerade (Witches series)/Reaper Man (Death series)/Interesting Times (Rincewind/Wizards series).

P.G. Wodehouse – The Code of the Woosters (Jeeves and Wooster)/Heavy Weather (Blandings)/Uncle Fred in the Springtime (Uncle Fred)/Cocktail Time (for its send-up of what banning a book achieves – as relevant now as when PGW wrote it!).

“Letters” books – PGW’s “A Life in Letters” is a fantastic read. Also love the Evelyn Waugh letters. Kenneth Williams wrote some great letters too.

“Diaries” books – Kenneth Williams’ one is very sad in places but is also brutally honest. Such a shame he underestimated his skills in comedy and I don’t think truly realised how loved he was, especially for his Just a Minute appearances.

Playwright – Shakespeare, naturally.

Charles Dickens Novel – A Christmas Carol

Jane Austen Novel – Pride and Prejudice

Poem/Hymn – the words to Abide With Me (and I also love If by Rudyard Kipling).

Children’s Series – The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

So what would you choose?

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

The best way of showing people what flash fiction is? Read some tales to them! Great way also to improve public reading skills. Lovely thing with reading flash fiction out loud is, by its nature, it doesn’t take long and so people are more inclined to listen! It is my fervent hope that those who won’t read or feel they don’t have time to will discover flash fiction as it is a form that gives bite-sized reads for those in a hurry! (From my point of view as a writer, it keeps people reading, I hope).

My own love of reading (and as a result of that for writing too) came directly from being read to as a child. I then went on to read my own choice of books (such freedom to choose what I wanted! I love my late mother’s collection but show me a decent bookshop and I can spend hours in there if allowed to do so. Note to self: Don’t spend too long at Foyles at Waterloo or you will miss the train home from the Bridge House/Cafelit/Chapeltown event next weekend!).

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Appreciating Books

Facebook – General

Was at the Winchester Discovery Centre for their 10th-anniversary celebrations as part of a group of local writers. Chatted with people, sold some books, other people took postcards of the book, and I hopefully raised the profile of flash fiction. After all, what is the most common question asked of any flash fiction writer? Basically, what IS flash fiction?!

Funnily enough, I wasn’t asked that today and I’ve found the best answer is to read an example or two out to people. Loveliest comment of the day was from one person who bought From Light to Dark and Back Again as she absolutely loved being read to! Maybe adults need reading to more often!

Will write more about this for Chandler’s Ford Today for this coming week’s post but thanks to Richard Hardie for setting things up. I hope all who went to the Centre today had a great time.

Support your library? Definitely! (And a big thanks must go to the library staff who provided teas, coffees and cake throughout the day!)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Heather Chamberlain and Woofbot enjoy talking with Richard Hardie, YA author, at Winchester Discovery Centre.  Image by Allison Symes

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Have spent most of today promoting From Light to Dark and Back Again, and flash fiction in general, at Winchester Discovery Centre today.

A group of local writers were there joining in with the celebrations for the Centre’s 10th-anniversary. Didn’t get to do the author talk (though at least I’ve got one prepared now!) but did do readings of my stories, which I love doing.

Off to the Bridge House/Cafelit/Chapeltown celebration next weekend. I’ll be reading stories again then too and am looking forward to catching up with fellow BH authors again.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.



Children’s author, Finian Black, at his book stand at Winchester.  Image by Allison Symes


Goodreads Author Programme Blog – Appreciating Books

I was at the Winchester Discovery Centre on 25th November as one member of a group of local writers invited to take part in the Centre’s 10th-anniversary celebrations. I used to work in Winchester and passed the Centre countless times but had never been in there before. It is a stunning building and the library is beautifully laid out.

I’ll be writing more about today’s event for my Chandler’s Ford Today post this week but I wanted to say now how good it was there were so many people in the Centre and that books are appreciated. Sometimes I’ve had the impression books can be sidelined. There ARE other forms of entertainment after all but to my mind you can’t beat curling up with a good book, whether that is in book, audio or electronic format.

It was good to talk to people about what flash fiction is and, better still, read a couple of examples out from From Light to Dark and Back Again. Loveliest comment of the day was from someone who relished my reading to her as an adult! Perhaps we “grown ups” need to be read to much more often!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Changing the World and Reading Fairytales

All images are from Pixabay unless stated otherwise.

Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

My latest Chandler’s Ford Today post is the start of an occasional series where I look at pivotal moments in history. I start with one where the result changed everything – Bosworth 1485. And the relevance for Hampshire? Well given our county symbol is the Tudor Rose, quite a bit!

It is strange that Bosworth is not commemorated more than it is given its impact on the whole country.

Hopefully, see some of you at the Winchester Discovery Centre 10th-anniversary celebrations tomorrow.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Looking forward to reading some of my flash fiction at tomorrow’s Winchester Discovery Centre event (10 am to 4 pm. Officially, I’m “on” at 11.45 for a short presentation but I will be there for the day with a stand).

If you would like to know more about flash fiction and/or writing for the small press and online magazines, do come over and have a chat.

There will be a wide range of authors taking part throughout the day and other activities so the whole day should be a lot of fun with something to interest most people!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Fairytales With Bite – Reading Fairytales

I’ll be reading some of my fairytales with bite at Winchester Discovery Centre tomorrow (Saturday 25th November 2017) as part of their 10th anniversary celebrations.  A group of local writers, including me, will be giving short presentations and readings throughout the day as well as manning our own book stands there.  It should be good fun.  If you are in the area and would like to know more about flash fiction and/or writing for the small press and online magazines, do come over and chat.

Reading fairytales also means of course reading between the lines.  One of the things I love about fairytales is they usually have a fairly strong message behind them.  With Hansel and Gretel, I pick up the obvious anti-child cruelty theme but also the importance of sticking together and supporting one another.  Had Hansel and Gretel not done this for each other, they wouldn’t have survived in the tale, which is the whole point.

The nice thing about fairytales also is the story shows you the message without preaching it.  It is by far a more effective way of getting the message across and something we should all aspire to with our own writing. I know I find it far too easy to slip back into “telling” though flash fiction writing, with its tight word count,does help me against that (there’s no room for it!).

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This World and Others – Changing the World

My latest Chandler’s Ford Today post looks at how the Battle of Bosworth in 1485 changed everything and I especially look at its impact for Hampshire, my home county. It was very much a personal battle too between Richard III and Henry Tudor, later Henry VII.  One man’s actions, that of Lord Stanley who betrayed Richard, literally did change everything so this made me wonder what about our characters and the changes they could bring about.

What individuals amongst them could change everything in the worlds we’ve created and how?  What would the impact be of them doing this?  What if they decided not to change anything?  Is the status quo maintainable (and should it be)?  Is the world you’ve created crying out for change and needs the right character to do it?  Even if your “right” character is willing to carry out the changes needed, how do they reach that decision and what obstacles are in their way?  Do they ever doubt themselves and their “mission”?

There are some cracking stories to be written answering those questions. Of course, for the last couple, I was thinking of The Lord of the Rings, but while I know I won’t ever write anything on that scale (few of us could!), we can still answer those questions for our own stories and bring more drama and tension into them, which should hopefully keep our readers wanting more from us!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Events and Editing

Sorry for the gap in posts but lots going on, all positive.  More below.

Facebook – General

Not been around much the last couple of days. Have been editing a series for Chandler’s Ford Today, which has been interesting and good fun to do but time-consuming! All good experience though. The series will appear fairly soon.

My post this week will be the start of an occasional series looking at pivotal moments in history. Tomorrow’s post will focus on Bosworth and how that affected us in Hampshire. More details tomorrow but when you consider Hampshire’s symbol is the Tudor Rose, well the outcome of 1485 mattered! I somehow think Hampshire would have chosen a different symbol had Richard III won!

Looking forward to going to the 10th-anniversary celebrations at Winchester Discovery Centre on Saturday. I’ll be giving a short talk on flash fiction (at about 11.45) and giving readings from From Light to Dark and Back Again. Should be good fun.

And if you’d like to discuss flash fiction, writing for the small presses and online magazines, do come over and have a chat.

Meanwhile, Lady settles in…

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Sorry for the gap in posting but I have been editing a new series for Chandler’s Ford Today which will start soon. It has been interesting and fun to do but time-consuming. All good experience though! Can help you look at your own work with a more critical eye too and that is useful.

I’m going to be at the Winchester Discovery Centre this Saturday as part of its 10th-anniversary celebrations. I’ll be giving a short talk on flash fiction and reading from From Light to Dark and Back Again.

Do pop over and say hello if you can. I’m also happy to talk to any writer who might like to know more about writing for the small independent presses and online magazines.

There will be a wide variety of events going on at the Discovery Centre and the local authors’ stands are one part of this. And I’m all for libraries and local writers supporting each other as previous Chandler’s Ford Today posts from me show!

Should be good fun. Hope to see you there.









Enjoying writing the follow up to FLTDBA. Image by Allison Symes














Facebook – General – Formats for Reading

Pleased to catch up on some magazine reading this week. I tend to have weeks where I get little chance to read much or am able to read loads. There seems to be no happy medium for me. Not sure why this is but do know it can be annoying!

I do read on my Kindle most evenings and I love the ‘”portable library” aspect of that. Really useful but only this week I’ve ordered a paperback, which has just arrived. Love books, love all the formats they come in is my motto!

Not all formats suit all people. I can think of family members who would never read a paperback (especially if it is of the length of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, which I adore, though to be fair if you drop THAT on your foot, you’ll know it!), but they do love audiobooks. I only listen to those when on lengthy car journeys but they are fabulous for that.

So what is your favourite format for a book? I think predictions of the death of the paperback are just plain wrong. I think the swing towards ebooks and then back again towards paper books will continue. (New Kindles come out, leads to boost in sales of ebooks etc).

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Facebook – General – Part 2 – Winchester Discovery Centre

Looking forward to taking part in the Winchester Discovery Centre’s 10th-anniversary celebrations next Saturday, 25th November.

A group of local writers, including yours truly, will be giving short talks and readings throughout the day. There will be a range of other activities going on throughout the day too.

There is a video clip on the link below. Hope to put up more details a little later on in the week but, if you can, do come along and enjoy the day at the Centre. Should be fun.

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again Part 1

Just sometimes I like to write something different for my blog posts!  This story will end up, I hope, in my second book.

I ran till I could run no more.
I dropped to the thick forest floor.
The sounds behind me had now gone
But I knew it was a big con.
They weren’t fooling me anymore.

I guess it would’ve helped if I had
Chosen not to go to the bad.
But when a girl’s luck is so down
And she can nick a pretty crown,
To not do so would just seem mad.

Who would miss that one little piece?
Not the king. Not even his niece
And she was the one who wore it!
No, I thought, I do need a bit
Of luck my way, the bad to cease.

I’d sell this lovely work of art.
I knew I must make myself part
With it so I could try to use
The money to feed my own muse.
Well, all writers need a good start!

Allison Symes – 18th November 2017

A poem or flash fiction or both? I occasionally write stories in verse though I do prefer the more obvious prose format. It is nice to throw something different into the mix now and again though!

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again Part 2 – Vengeful Fairies

If you were ever in any doubt that fairies could be downright nasty when it suited them, have a look at my “mini-series” on this theme in From Light to Dark and Back Again. Job Satisfaction and Collector’s Piece show fairies having a great capacity for revenge (and why it pays never to annoy the Tooth Fairy. And you thought going to the dentist was bad enough…).

I’ve always loved J.M. Barrie’s portrayal of Tinkerbell. Definitely not all cute and sweet. When children are told to clap if they believe in fairies and Tinkerbell wishes she could “get at” the ones who didn’t clap, well I think that one passage alone sums up the fairy folk attitude to life admirably! (Oh and fairies are definitely not twee in Shakespeare either so why fairytales can sometimes be seen that way and “just for kids” is beyond me).



Nice combination of titles for tonight’s posts I think!

Image Credit:  Images are either from Pixabay or, where NOT stated, taken by me.

Facebook – General and Chandler’s Ford Today

Tonight’s Chandler’s Ford Today post looks at local communities and writers and how they can help each other. I also look at the benefits to both of this and discuss sponsorship, how local events (often sponsored) can raise awareness of the writing community’s existence and encourage spending in the local area (and not just on books!).

I use Chandler’s Ford as the “model” and take the opportunity to thank a wide range of people who have been very supportive of our writing community. By community, I do mean everyone from local businesses to our fantastic Grade 2 listed library to the Age Concern Centre to the Post Office! So there’s a good old mix in there!

(I also manage to have a quick moan about Nat West closing our local branch as our shopping centre has had closures, this being the latest, yet has other shops moving in. It has been a bit of a strange time – businesses you think would stay for good now gone, others you think may not last going on for years.).

I also share news of another event on 25th November at Winchester Discovery Centre where several local authors, including yours truly, will be taking part in the Centre’s 10th-anniversary celebrations with talks, readings, etc. Should be fun and I hope to post more details later.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Facebook – General – Part 2 – When Your Main Character Is a Wimp

What can you do when your main character turns out to be a wimp and a secondary character is “nagging you” for more of the action? I would see this as a sign your main character simply isn’t up to the task of being the lead, unless you significantly re-write them, Equally this can give you the chance to look at whether you have written the story from the right character’s viewpoint after all. You can always rewrite, promoting the secondary character in importance, and see which version of your story works best. (My money would be on the version where the secondary character “takes over”).

The magical world of the imagination. Image via Pixabay

Is your main character really up to the job of leading the story or a bit of a wimp?  Whose story is it?. Image via Pixabay

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Flash fiction is the perfect format for those lovely incidents which are not enough to make a standard length short story (usually 1500 words or so) but are worthy of being told all the same.

I’ve found it lends itself really well to laugh out loud moments and, strangely, those tales that give you a sense of something walking all over your grave. Why there is such a contrast in the mood generated I don’t really know, (of course it could just be me!), but flash fiction, for me, is all about impact. The twist in the tale ending comes into its own with flash fiction too as it is such a great way to ensure you do make that impact.

There are a lot of steps on any writer’s journey but I am pleased to say I’ve made another one. I’ve become a character in Beatrice Fishback’s novella, Winter Writerland. I met Beatrice at Swanwick this year and along with Jennifer C Wilson, Fiona Park and Val Penny, we came up with ideas for a cosy mystery, which Beatrice has now written up! The story is set in the fictional writing conference of Branwick and all four of us have given our blessing to being named characters.

Oh and before you ask even I don’t know if I’m the murderer yet. There’s a sentence I never thought I’d write!😀 The novella is currently in e-book form only but there are plans for a paperback.  Amazon link below. I never thought I’d promote a book where I’m a character but that’s one great thing about the writing life. It can take you down some very interesting avenues! Good luck with the novella, Beatrice. I wonder what we’ll come up with at next year’s Swanwick!

A gruesome murder was inevitable, but how the death would unfold would be anyone’s guess. And the murderer’s identity? That would remain a mystery until the appropriate time…Meet Daisy McFarland, an American spinster…

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again Part 2

Sometimes even I find 100 words are not enough for the tales I want to tell. One of my favourite longer stories in From Light to Dark and Back Again is They Don’t Understand, which is a poignant character study.

The reason for the longer word count here (though it is still under 750 words) is I needed some time to establish the relationship between the two characters in the story. Without that the punchline would not have the impact I wanted it to have. So my guideline here was the impact and had I put in enough detail to support it? Yes, I had but this time it took more than 100 words to do so.

I like the flexibility of flash fiction regarding genre but I also like the fact it has sub-divisions within it so I can vary the word count I use. Whatever word count I go for, it has to be right for that story. There mustn’t be a word out of place, whether it is a 100-word tale or a 1000 word story!

Fairytales With Bite – Having Fun With Your Characters

Do you have fun with your characters?  There should be the initial fun of creating them, of course, but for me I think the most fun comes when they develop and mature and truly take on a life of their own.  You can look back at the earlier stages of their development and literally see how far they have come.

I also enjoy dropping my characters right in it when appropriate to do so but that probably says more about me than them.  I will claim dramatic licence though!  So yes you should have fun with your characters, especially for novel writing, you will be living with them for a long time.  Even in flash fiction writing, while you will generally go from one character to another for each story, you should still know what makes that character tick and enjoy working out how best to get that across to your readers.  If you become tired of your characters, it does show through in your writing so love them, love to hate them, enjoy writing for them, enjoy putting them through the emotional wringer etc!  It will help your writing flow and sparkle.  Characters written like this always draw me to a story.  I think it is the characters, more than anything, that makes a story unforgettable.

Talking of characters and having fun, I’ve become a character in a book, Winter Writerland, written by Beatrice Fishback.  I met her at Swanwick Writers’ Summer School this year and, along with Jennifer C Wilson, Fiona Park, Val Penny and, of course, me, the five of us came up with story ideas for a cosy mystery.  All highly enjoyable and many laughs were had at what we came up with!  Beatrice has written the story up as a novella and I’m very glad to share the link.  (Naturally all four of us have given our blessing to being characters in a book but I must admit it was a development in my writing journey I hadn’t anticipated!).  Oh and don’t ask me if I’m the murderer (a sentence I never thought I would write!).  At the moment I don’t know.  I wouldn’t say anyway.  No plot spoilers here!

Love your writing.  Your readers will love you for it.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This World and Others – The Joys of Editing

As well as editing my own work, I sometimes edit pieces for Chandler’s Ford Today. I’m currently editing a local history mini-series, which I hope will be up on the website fairly soon. Fascinating material which just needed putting together in the right order to improve clarity. Funnily enough, it’s thrown up a few odd coincidences with my life, which I wasn’t expecting.

I love editing. I love sensing how my story or post is improving because I have taken the wasted words out. Without a decent edit (and ideally at least two to three), I know no work of mine will be accepted anywhere because I always overwrite and so have to cut out the padding. But I don’t mind doing that. I like to write down all of my ideas and then select the strongest, based on my outline. It is always a relief getting that first draft down because I then know I definitely have something to work with and experience to date tells me the edit only improves a piece.

I do think it vital though to keep the creative side away from the editing side. You need that joy of creating something new to help you get that story nailed to the screen but the sensible editing side comes later. They really are two separate tasks. How can you edit something properly that isn’t finished? So write first, edit later is my mantra and I’ve never regretted following that.

Goodreads Author Programme – Quotes

I thought I’d share the link to my quotes page here.  I make no apology that, to date, the majority of quotes come from the much missed Terry Pratchett.

From Light to Dark and Back Again

Allison Symes’s books on Goodreads


Interviews and When Less is More for Horror

Facebook – General – Interviews

What are the best questions to ask in interviews? Any that encourage your interviewee to share insights as to why they do what they do and what they think is most important. This is why I always ask writers I talk to for their three top tips.

Yes, there is some overlap (we all encourage people to read widely and well and rightly so), but there are differences too. Also, the order in which writers think certain things matter can be interesting too.

It has also been fascinating, when talking with indie authors, to find out what they loved and loathed about the whole process of self-publishing.

One reason why it pays to read writer interviews is you learn so much from them. Sometimes they can show you a path to follow, other times you realise that this particular way is not for you, but you still learn from it!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Facebook – General – Settling In

Lady is settling in well though very excitable. Loving the big walks. Fresh air and exercise doing me the world of good too.

Talking about side benefits, how do your characters benefit from what others do? Do those others resent this? After all, nobody likes someone who gets all the glory without doing anything to earn it or, worse, gets the glory THEY earned!

When benefits are unintentional, how do your characters make the most of them? How can they turn a situation to their advantage?

Lady will be going to additional training classes before too long and I’m sure they’ll do her and us the world of good too. In the meantime, if you see a strange middle-aged woman seemingly being dragged around by her lovable dog, it probably will be me!

FEEDING POST - the road is not always clear to see

Is the way clear enough or is training needed to find it?  Image via Pixabay


Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

What are your favourite genres? I love fantasy (especially fairytales), which will hardly be a surprise (!), but I also love crime fiction, historical fiction (and fact), some thrillers and a wide range of humorous writing.

I’m also very fond of a well written and thought out non-fiction book (and have a particular soft spot for railway history). I’m currently reading a number of books (on Kindle) concerning Richard III and the Princes in the Tower. As a contrast, the other non-fiction I’m reading and loving right now is the joint biography of Morecambe and Wise. So a right old mix then but that’s how I like it!

Some of what I like to read comes into what I write, but not all of it does and that’s fine. It is often those genres I turn to first when I most feel the need to switch off for a while. You really can’t beat a good book for sheer escapism (and the best ones entertain you and educate you at the same time with you barely being aware of it).

The magic of stories. Image via Pixabay

The magic of stories. Image via Pixabay

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again – Part 2

I sometimes write dark fantasy/light horror (just where DO the boundaries meet?!) and find flash fiction a good vehicle for this. I don’t read or write a lot of horror stories so there is no way I could write longer work in this genre but I DO know what frightens me and find that a good place to start!

Pressing the Flesh from From Light to Dark and Back Again is a good example of the kind of horror I do write from time to time. The images it conjures up are graphic without being overly gory. The 100-word story here says all that needs to be said (without giving too much away, it is a story of meat supplies. Yes, that kind of horror!).

The story would lose its impact if I’d written more. Sometimes with flash fiction, it really is a question of knowing where to stop”.



Reviews and Favourite Stories

Facebook – General – Reviewing

One of the problems with any kind of review is that you can’t take the personal taste of the reviewer out of it! Now that, of course, can make for some great reviews when the reviewer (a) acknowledges that and (b) gives a fair assessment whether or not they love whatever it is they are reviewing.

My policy here is to never review anything unless there is a good chance I am going to like at least something about the production or the book in question. I’ve never seen the point of “hatchet jobs” in reviews when it is clearly the reviewer’s personal taste clashing with whatever it is they’ve gone to see or have read.

As a writer myself, I have every sympathy for the hours and hours of work put in by the writers, actors etc only for them to receive said hatchet job. Why bother doing that? Simply say why the production or book didn’t work for you and leave it at that. That way at least the reviewer is merely being honest and readers can decide whether or not they are likely to agree and so either go and see the play/read the book or not, as the case may be.

Image Credit:  General images are from Pixabay, images of books I’ve appeared in or have written are obviously by  me.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Facebook – General – Favourite Stories

Do you have a favourite story?

I think the nearest I come to this is the Cinderella one as, not only is it a great fairytale, my take on it was my first story in print (A Helping Hand in Bridge House Publishing’s Alternative Renditions). I tell the story from the youngest ugly sister’s viewpoint. The anthology comprises fairytales told from the viewpoint of minor characters in those tales and is good fun.

So the story has special meaning for me on those grounds and because I love the idea of injustice being put right (even if it does take a fairy godmother, some rats, and a pumpkin!).

What I read is dependent on my mood. I tend to read a lot in a genre for a while, then go on to another one, read a lot in that and so on. Of course, what matters most of all is to read widely and frequently. I see it as “topping up” my love of stories and books and that is necessary to help me write my own.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

I’m preparing a talk on flash fiction, which I hope to use at an event later this month (and adapt for future events too!). More details on the event concerned when I have them but my talk looks at what flash fiction is and the benefits to readers and writers alike.

When preparing something like this, I focus on what would most likely be of interest to the potential audience. In most book and literary events, there is likely to be a mixture of readers and fellow writers. The nice thing is all writers should be able to wear the “reader’s hat” as well as obviously wearing the writer’s one and so pitching the talk, and working out what both are likely to be interested in, is easier to do.

Both reader and writer are interested in the process of producing a story, albeit from different angles. Both are interested in the inspiration behind the stories, though the writer wants to know how to take that inspiration and use it to produce something unique to themselves. Both reader and writer are looking for connections.

In the case of a reader, you are pointing them in the direction of reading your story if they haven’t done so already. If they have, you, as the writer, are generally looking for feedback. What worked well? What was less good/effective? In the case of another writer, they are looking for tips to help them improve their own writing and learn from you what lessons YOU learned the hard way so they don’t have to! Be fair though. You will do this yourself every time you go to another author’s talk!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again Part 2

The art to a great flash story
Be it sad, funny or gory
Is having no word out of place.
It also grips you and its pace
Is apt for the allegory.
(Allison Symes 2017)

Okay, the Poet Laureate’s job is definitely not threatened by me, but the above does sum up flash fiction reasonably well.

I’ve used nursery rhymes (Hickory Dickory Dock) as a basis for my tales (Telling the Time), as well as fairytales told from the viewpoint of other characters.

I’m looking for what impact my flash fiction will have on a reader and I like my characters to justify their stance. It doesn’t mean that they’re right but you should be able to see into their mind and understand why they act the way they do and/or live the way that they are. It is a question of looking out from where they are, as opposed to where I am. I write more effectively for the characters if I can do that.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.