A busy few days and I also have a new flash fiction story to share with you.

Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

My latest Chandler’s Ford Today post sees me resuming my series on 101 Things to Put into Room 101. This week’s post sees me reach No. 45! Do you agree with my choices? Comments welcome in the CFT comments box.

Feature Image - Part 3 Room 101 Post

My latest CFT post. Image via Pixabay.

Decisions, decisions

Decisions, decisions and a not terribly helpful signpost. Image via Pixabay.

Still this kind of board might raise a smile

This notice may make you smile though. Image via Pixabay.

Could Room 101 be behind here - image via Pixabay

The vault of doom aka Room 101. Image via Pixabay

Facebook – General and More Than Writers Blog (Association of Christian Writers)

Busy, busy. I have a short post up on Chandler’s Ford Today regarding Richard Hardie’s author events at the Winchester Discovery Centre on 3rd April. If you like YA fantasy and are in the area, why not pop along? Entry is free (though there are books to buy!). See…/

My usual Friday slot tomorrow sees me resuming my 101 Things to Put into Room 101 series. I incorporate everything from snow to shoes that pinch your feet (though if they pinch anything else, you’re doing something very odd with your shoes!).

My monthly post for the Association of Christian Writers is online tonight. My spot is the 29th of each month. This means I get every three Februaries off!

My post is Real Writing = Real Characters and talks about the importance of honest portrayal of characters. If they’re right so-and-sos, then you portray them as such. (How you do that is up to you but there must be no doubt in the readers’ minds that the character IS a right so-and-so!).

Facebook – General

What are your characters’ favourite memories and why? How do they influence their actions in your story? Can showing some of their memories help you create a richer, more fully rounded character? I think so.

Now with flash fiction, there isn’t the room for a lot here so you have to pick the most important memory and focus sharply on that. Or you tell the story where the character is looking back on something.

For example, in my flash tales, My Life and Changing My Mind, I have my take on Pride and Prejudice told from the viewpoints of Elizabeth and Mr Darcy, each with their own story. To combine them in one tale would have made the stories lose impact (though it would still have been well within the flash fiction word count limit). Mind, it did make it easy working out where they had to be in From Light to Dark and Back Again – right next to each other!

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

What is the purpose of flash fiction? To create a miniature world a reader can literally dive in and out of in moments yet still leave an impact on them. To say in a few words (and with greater impact) something that would lose its power if put into a longer story.

I suppose one thing that really has drawn me to the form is the fact I’ve always loved working things out from clues the author gives and you do that a lot with flash fiction. I don’t want the writer telling me everything!

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

I think humour lends itself well to flash fiction because the best gags (or at least the ones I remember best) are short and to the point. (Mind you, the Two Ronnies’ Four Candles is an honourable exception to this and such a fabulous play on words too. Should imagine that was a delight to write. Likewise Morecambe and Wise with Andre Preview in their Christmas special – sheer joy from beginning to end.).

The nice thing about flash fiction is I’ve found it opens up the genres you write in. After all in From Light to Dark and Back Again, I have crime stories, relationship stories, light horror stories and so on. A lot of my lighter tales play with humour too – I’ve used a lot of irony. So mix up your humour styles and see what flash fiction you can generate. Above all, have fun doing this!

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Why should any writer read well and widely in AND outside of their own genre?

The simple answer is you are feeding your imagination by reading. I’ve had ideas for stories by reading works by others, especially in non-fiction. Something I’ve read has just triggered that spark and away I go! So the more you read, the more likely you are to get that spark and you are “fishing from a bigger pool” too. You expand your own knowledge and therefore you can expand what you write about too.

With non-fiction, a story can emerge from reading, say, a historical fact, and wondering how that would affect characters from differing backgrounds.

So never feel guilty about “just” reading. It is the flip side of writing and a highly enjoyable one at that. After all, if you don’t want to read, why would you want to write? There has to be that love of books and stories inside you to trigger that desire to write. That love can only come through reading – whether your preferred format is Kindle, paperback or audio doesn’t matter. All that matters is you read!

Cafelit – The Art Critic

Am pleased to share my latest piece of flash fiction, The Art Critic.  Do check out Cafelit.  There is a wealth of fabulous stories on there and I am so pleased to be part of it.

A great way to relax - with a book and a cuppa - image via Pixabay

Great way to relax. Now where are those biscuits? Image via Pixabay

Fairytales with Bite – Publicity IN your stories

On my Chandler’s Ford Today post this week, I resume my series on 101 Things to Put into Room 101One of the things I mention is annoying adverts.  This led me to wonder how advertising, business, publicity etc could work in a fictional world.

How do your characters survive?  Presumably by working so what do they do?  What products are made in your world?  How are others persuaded to buy them?  Are there things your world does not allow to be made or sold and if so what and why?  Is there a black market (there usually is!)?

Also how do your characters find out what is going on?  Can they tell what is truth and what is propaganda?  Are adverts truthful?  Are there governing bodies regulating these things?  Or is your society a simpler, barter based one?

Talking of adverts, I will just share a flash fiction story of mine, The Art Critic, which is now up on Cafelit.  Do check out the website for some fabulous stories by a whole range of authors.  I’m delighted to have work on here.  Hope you like the story.

This World and Others – Your Character Likes and Dislikes

My Chandler’s Ford Today post this week sees me resume my series on 101 Things to be Put Into Room 101So far I’m up to number 45!  I’ll have no trouble finding 101 things to banish…

What are your character likes and dislikes and why?  if your character loathes the colour brown, to name one example, what is the reason for it and does that loathing make them change their behaviour in any way?  Could that loathing change the way the story ends because the character’s actions change (and not necessarily for the better either)?

You almost certainly wouldn’t use all of this in one story but listing what your character likes and loathes is a great way of finding out all about them before you write the story properly.  You will write with a deeper knowledge of that character (and it does show through).

From the writers’ viewpoint, I dislike characters who have no reason to be in the story but are clearly making up the numbers and  I have come across this.  (Earlier in my writing life, I’ve been guilty of it but I think many of us have been.  The important thing is to realise the characters don’t have a role to play and cut them out). Each and every character has to have a very good reason to be in your story.  Each and every character has to be distinctive (even if it is, say, Character A loves flowers and Character B hates them because they have chronic hayfever.  Easy to tell those two apart!).

This slideshow requires JavaScript.






Flash Fiction, Top Five Favourite Books, and Guest Blogging

Facebook – General

Good news – another of my flash fiction tales, The Art Critic, is now up on the Cafelit website. Anyone who has had a bad review or hated a piece of artwork will sympathize with my heroine in this one. Good fun to write. Hope you enjoy reading it.

I’m outlining ideas for another collection of flash fiction tales and I hope some of these will also end up on Cafelit in the meantime. Many of my stories in From Light to Dark and Back Again started life on Cafelit. A number of Chapeltown Books authors can say the same about their flash stories – and I’m willing to bet we’re all pleased about this!

I loved the old James Garner films, Support Your Local Gunfighter/Sheriff etc. Maybe we should have something called Support Your Cafelit! In all seriousness, online sites like this are an immense help to writers including me. They give us somewhere to put our work, it can (and in this case has) led to publication opportunities, and feedback is also possible via the comments section under each story put on the site.

So give online story websites like Cafelit a try. You may well come across a form of fiction you might like to try writing. Certainly, you’ll like the stories already up there. Happy reading and writing!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Facebook – General

Firstly, as mentioned above, my latest flash fiction piece, The Art Critic, is now up on Cafelit. See but do check out the other wonderful stories on site.

Secondly, I am guest blogging on Amanda Huggins’s Troutie McFish Tales blog tonight. I talk about why I love writing flash fiction and for Chandler’s Ford Today and share some writing tips that have stood me in very good stead.

Thirdly, I’ll be appearing at the Hursley Park Book Fair due to take place in June. I’ll share more details nearer the time but author pics and bios are now up on their website, including for yours truly. See


Facebook – General

My CFT post this week will be the resumption of my 101 Things to Put into Room 101 series. Yes, I can find 101 things!

I’m using my diary more to plan out what writing work I do when and am finding that useful. It reminds me to block out time for specific tasks for one thing so I am hoping by the year’s end, I will have been more productive than I was in 2017. Not that I was lazy last year, far from it (!), but I’ve been aware for a while I could probably do more than I am and that will need scheduling if I’m going to make it (a) happen and (b) work!

I am making better use of dead time thanks to Evernote and a smartphone. I use time like this to draft out ideas for flash fiction stories and CFT posts. All useful stuff. It’s amazing (though not in a good way) just how easily time slips away and you find you haven’t achieved as much as you thought or would like.

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

How can you tell if you have written flash fiction and not just a short story chopped down? Well, like any short story, a flash fiction tale must have a beginning, a middle and an end. Okay, a lot is implied, especially backstory, but everything in your flash tale must move the story onwards to what will seem like the inevitable conclusion (even if is a twist one).  If your story does that, then fine!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

What is the purpose of a story?

To entertain – definitely.
To sometimes convey truths in a more palatable way – yes.
To get a message across – yes.

To set puzzles for readers to solve – think Agatha Christie here especially.

To warn – yes (particularly true for horror I would have thought. If you decide you’re going to tackle Dracula, you’ve got to be prepared for the consequences!).

Flash fiction does all of this but concisely!

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Glad to report The Art Critic, my latest flash fiction piece, is now up on Cafelit. See

It was great fun appearing on Amanda Huggins’ Troutie McFish Tales blog. See…/guest-post-alli… Many thanks, Mandy!

I share why I love writing (and indeed reading) flash fiction and also what I love about writing for Chandler’s Ford Today.

Printers would have fun trying to print this - image via Pixabay

Let the ideas flow and let journeys encourage that! Image via Pixabay

Printing Press - image via Pixabay

The old method of printing. Image via Pixabay

Books can be one major key to knowledge - image via Pixabay

Books are the keys to knowledge. Image via Pixabay

The To Be Read pile - image via Pixabay

The To Be Read pile. Image via Pixabay

What new scenes will a book show you - image via Pixabay

What new worlds and scenes will books show you? Image via Pixabay

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

What is the best thing about writing flash fiction? I always love that moment when I’ve come up with the “killer” last line that completes the story in such a way I know there couldn’t be an alternative ending.

Sometimes I do come up with a line I think will make a great ending and plot the story back from that. It’s an interesting challenge (and Agatha Christie was known to do it too).

Do last lines sometimes surprise me? Yes. I hope they surprise you too! I will think of a line I realize is better than the one I originally had in mind. For example, with Serving Up a Treat, the last line “He never got to take a second mouthful” not only sums up the story, (and you can get the genre from that line alone), but, taken with the rest of the tale, I realised later there was more than one way of this character meeting their fate. I had not originally plotted that but was glad it came about. (Yes, you will need to rest of the tale to find out!).

Maybe the art of being a better writer is in getting better at recognizing what works well and being open to changing your initial thoughts and ideas for better ones.

Goodreads Author Programme – Blog

What are your top five favourite books? They can be any genre, non-fiction or otherwise etc.

So often my favourite books do depend on my mood. If I want humorous fiction, I will read that. If I want crime, I will turn to that genre.

But I think for me the five that stand out overall are:-

1. The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey. This book is one of the few novels to ever change my mind about a historical character, in this case Richard III.

2. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkein. The sheer scale of Tolkein’s imagination is amazing and you won’t get a better good-v-evil battle in fiction, I think. Loved the film version too.

3. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. This was my first introduction to the use of irony in fiction and Elizabeth Bennett has long been one of my favourite heroines.

4. Men at Arms by Terry Pratchett. It was hard to pick just one Discworld novel but I plumped for this one as, for me, it is where Sam Vimes really takes off as a character.

5. The Best of P.G. Wodehouse Am I cheating here by going for a best of collection? Maybe! But I’m not sorry. This wonderful book shows off PGW’s fabulous array of characters.

So what would your choices be? Do you think they would change, say, annually, or be permanent selections?








Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

My latest CFT post is Part 2 of my interview with fellow Chapeltown Books author, Gail Aldwin. We discuss writing tips and character creation amongst other topics. Gail also shares her thoughts on “real” books and ebooks. Do you agree with her? Comments welcome in the Chandler’s Ford Today box at the end of the post.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Facebook – General

When is a character “faulty”? When it takes a convoluted plot to make the character work.

Characters, no matter how bizarre they are or how weird their world is, still have to be believable. There has to be something about them that catches the reader’s attention and then holds it until the end of the story. So a strong character is a must, even if that strength is in being a weak person who will do anything to save their own skin. (Some great stories to come from that, I would have thought!).

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

The most difficult thing about flash is having to cut lines you know are good ones, and usually add depth to the story, BUT don’t in themselves move the tale forward. There simply isn’t the word count room to indulge in that so out they come. Occasionally I’ve been able to use a suitable line elsewhere but not as often as I’d like!

Electronically or by print, both face publishing frustrations - image via Pixabay

Ebooks and print – both have their own frustrations when it comes to publishing. Image via Pixabay

Books can be one major key to knowledge - image via Pixabay

Books are the keys to knowledge. Image via Pixabay

Let creativity spill out - image via Pixabay

Let the creative process flow! Image via Pixabay

Writing, whether it is fiction or otherwise, is a wonderful way to create something new - image via Pixabay

You can’t beat notebooks for jotting down ideas. Image via Pixabay.

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

What is the purpose of a story?

To entertain – definitely.
To sometimes convey truths in a more palatable way – yes.
To get a message across – yes.

To set puzzles for readers to solve – think Agatha Christie here especially.

To warn – yes (particularly true for horror I would have thought. If you decide you’re going to tackle Dracula, you’ve got to be prepared for the consequences!).

Flash fiction does all of this but concisely!

Fairytales with Bite – Story Generating Ideas

In my Chandler’s Ford Today post for this week, I discuss with Gail Aldwin writing tips, character creation and “real” books amongst other topics.

One common question put to writers is where do you get your ideas.  Well, the answer can be all over the place, which is not what most people want to hear.  What they want, a quick pat answer, is simply not possible becauset he great thing about generating ideas for stories is that there are several methods to do this. One at least is bound to suit you.  I use:-

1.  Well known sayings (and sometimes I twist these too).

2.  Proverbs

3.  Think of a subject and a problem in one sentence and then see where it takes you.  For example, “He refused to cry again”.  Who is he?  What made him cry in the first place?  What has led to his change of attitude here (and it is clear there has been a change)?  What has been his problem that has led him to this point?

4.  Think of an ending in one sentence and work backwards.  For example, “At last, the dragon was killed”.  Okay, so why wasn’t it killed earlier?  What was the problem here?

5.  Sometimes in conversations or even TV/radio programmes, you will pick up on something that can be useful – an odd phrase can give a good indication of character.  Then it is up to you what you do with that character on the page!

This World and Others – Dreams and Reality

Writers learn early on to separate out dreams from reality.  The big dream of being published never goes away until fulfilled (and then you want to keep on being published).  The reality is knowing the writing journey is a tough one, that you’ve got to expect rejections but also knowing there are other options out there such as self publishing or seeking publication through the small independent press.

The latter is the route I, and fellow Chapeltown Books author, Gail Aldwin took.  Part 2 of my interview with her is up on Chandler’s Ford Today for this week’s post and we discuss writing tips and character creation amongst other things.

You need the dreams to keep you going. You need hard headed reality to be able to cope with the rejections, competition disappointments and so on.  It does help to know this is all part of the process.  The one good thing about it is that it does toughen you up so you face later rejections better than you might otherwise have done.


A good mix of topics for tonight I think!

Facebook – General

So a good interview then should encourage the interviewee to talk. What would be the equivalent for fiction writers? I think a character outline that helps you realise there is more to your creation than you first thought of! I love that moment when characters almost come to life before your eyes. You know then you definitely have someone worth writing about!

Facebook – General

Can’t remember the last time we had snow this late in the UK. Lady had a fantastic time in it again (though I also think she was trying to set some kind of record for how much of it she could (a) roll in and (b) eat! They say border collies are intelligent…😁).

Am pleased that I’ve submitted a short story and a flash piece this weekend. Good to get the ball rolling with both formats (though I am busy drafting ideas for a third flash fiction collection and am enjoying that). Plenty coming up with CFT over the next few weeks too.

What do I like best about writing overall? Tough one to call but I think it is the variety of what I do. The challenges for crafting a CFT post are different from those I face with writing a short story or a piece of flash fiction but I love it all. Absolutely no chance to get bored but would love more time to write… (says she, strongly suspecting that all writers have said this at some point!).

Facebook – General

Do you find yourself writing and/or reading in one particular format for a while before you switch to another? I do with fiction.

I’m just getting back into some short story writing after a gap (though during that time I’ve been drafting ideas for a third flash fiction collection, have been promoting From Light to Dark and Back Again, and finally submitted the second book to the publisher. Not necessarily in that order incidentally!). (Medium-term goal is to get a standard length short story collection out there).

With reading, I seem to need to read all I can in a genre before switching to another. Well, I guess I could call it immersing myself properly in a genre! (Before anyone claims it’s being obsessed in one genre, then being obsessed in another, guilty as charged so to speak, but I think most writers could identify with that. There has to be a certain amount of obsession with characters to be able to write about them properly I think).

Facebook – General

I’ve always been fond of animal characters in stories. I’m thinking of stories from Watership Down to Timmy the dog in the Famous Five series by Enid Blyton. Loved them all. (And The Wind in the Willows is one of the all-time classics!).

Not sure they’re the kind of story I could write but that is the great thing about fiction. What you don’t write yourself, you can love reading in tales by another writer. (It also helps with the old adage about reading widely outside of your own genre, as well as inside it).

So what do you love reading that you don’t feel you could write yourself?

Facebook – General

My CFT post later this week will be Part 2 of my interview with fellow flash fiction writer, Gail Aldwin. She shares her thoughts on “real” and ebooks, writing tips and talks about character creation amongst many other topics. Link to go up on Friday.

What I find particularly interesting about interviews like this (and many others I’ve read elsewhere) is finding out which writing tips writers list as the most important. There will always be overlap (we’re all going to encourage reading for one thing) but the order in which a writer lists these things can be revealing.

It is also interesting to find out what are the joys and woes of writing in a particular genre, especially if it is not one I write in. Good writing is good writing, no matter what the format, but the challenges of that cross the divides. It is the technical challenge of individual genres that fascinate me as there is a wide variety here. But the one single challenge that faces us all is making our stories believable.


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

The important thing to remember with flash fiction is, despite its very short form, it still needs crafting and editing, as much as any other kind of story would. I find it can sometimes take longer to edit a flash piece over a standard length short story because of the conflict between getting your word count down and still having a decent tale to submit.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

A perfect story is one in which every word is needed to complete it. This shows up sharply with flash fiction, of course, and one huge advantage to writing it is it does sharpen your editing skills. It also makes you choose stronger image creating words given you are using fewer words to begin with!

You also learn to imply a lot of the story given you haven’t got the room to spell it out in detail. I’ve always loved stories which allow me to fill in the gaps or work things out for myself so I guess flash fiction is a natural choice for me.

I am glad to see more flash collections coming out as hopefully this will encourage people to read and write it. I would love flash fiction to be shown as a great way of getting reluctant readers hooked on books given you’re not asking them to commit to too much in one go.


Even in the heart of a big city, books are a great form of escape - image via Pixabay

Books are a fantasic form of escapism. Image via Pixabay

A great way to relax - with a book and a cuppa - image via Pixabay

Great way to relax. Now where are those biscuits? Image via Pixabay

The basic kit for a writer - image via Pixabay

The writers’ basic kit. Image via Pixabay

What a fantastic home for books - image via Pixabay

What a beautiful home for books. Image via Pixabay

Another lovely library, this one is in Canada - image via Pixabay

Another beautiful library (this one is in Canada). Image via Pixabay

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

What has happened as a writer that you did not anticipate when you first started out? For me, I never expected to write non-fiction (Chandler’s Ford Today) or flash fiction (From Light to Dark and Back again).

In the former case, it was a writer friend who told me about CFT and encouraged me to send something in (NEVER underestimate the importance of networking, you never know where it may lead!). In the latter case, I saw Cafelit had issued a 100-word challenge and I thought I’d give it a go. Not looked back since, as they say.

So I suppose I have learned to be open to trying new forms of writing and see where it takes me. It’s a fun journey too!

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

With flash fiction, you have little room for world building. (Little room for anything, actually!). So you have to convey an impression of a world with a few well-chosen words and leave your readers to fill in the gaps.

I think this is probably my favourite thing about this genre as I love being able to envisage what characters get up to once the “official” story is finished. (I understand fan fiction, wouldn’t write it myself, but do “get it”). I like being made to fill in the gaps and work things out. The challenge for the flash fiction writer is to give the right information so that readers can do this without giving too much away or slowing their story down.

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Pleased to share the link with National Flash-Fiction Day tonight. The Day itself is not until 16th June but I love the idea of a whole day devoted to this form of fiction.

Okay, I’m not unbiased but I’ve always loved stories where I’ve had to work things out as a reader. As so much has to be implied in flash, I guess I should’ve realised sooner than I did that this was going to be a major format of writing for me. Still better late than not at all!

Goodreads Author Programme – Blog

Are you someone who only reads “proper” paperback books or are you a full convert to e-books?

I cross the divide. I love paperbacks, they’re a great format, but I have found e-books to be brilliant too. They’ve also saved me a major packing dilemma for when I’m away at writing conferences or on holiday. No more worrying about how many books I can take. Thanks to the Kindle, I can take as many as I like! I only wish it could give me more reading time but devices have their limitations!

But there are certain books I can only envisage reading in paperback – Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series with their wonderful covers for a start.

My main reading session is just before I sleep and I read paperbacks and from the Kindle then. I relish both! I do like the bookmark function and find that useful. I am forever losing “real” bookmarks from my paperbacks. Mind you, I often lose pens too. Hmm… doesn’t sound fab from a writer, does it?

I’ve not really tried e-magazines yet though I suspect that will be the next big area I’ll explore.

So what do you prefer? Do you think one genre works better in one format and, if so, which and why?

In the meantime, happy reading, no matter what format you’re using!





Facebook – Chandler’s Ford Today

My latest Chandler’s Ford Today post is part 1 of my interview with fellow Chapeltown Books author, Gail Aldwin. She shares how her around the world bus journey inspired her flash fiction, especially her story, Paisley Shirt, which is the title for her new collection. Part 2 next week will see Gail sharing writing tips and her thoughts on “real” books and ebooks amongst other things. Plenty of insights for writers and readers to come.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Facebook – General

My Chandler’s Ford Today post this week will be Part 1 of an interview with fellow Chapeltown Books author, Gail Aldwin, whose flash fiction collection, Paisley Shirt, is now out. She shares travel tales from around the globe and looks at where paisley comes from. It is not often the East India Company gets a mention in my posts but it does here!

Part 2 will feature writing tips, a discussion on characters etc. Link to Part 1 will go up tomorrow.

There are so many things I love about interviewing other writers. Some of these things include finding out what inspires them, how links form between something they may have read years ago and a story they’ve written now (it can be amazing what conscious and sub-conscious influences come out when you’re writing), and the tips they’ve found most useful.

I also really love the way Chapeltown Books have such a distinctive image for their flash fiction collections. Okay, so my From Light to Dark and Back Again is one of them. Okay, so I AM biased (!) but if you wanted to see an example of effective branding, I would say this is a good one.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Facebook – General

What do you like most about interviews (regardless of format)?

I like those questions that draw the interviewee out and interviews that really do seem like it is a conversation written down or broadcast or what have you.

One great thing about writer interviews is that, regardless of the genre being covered, we all face the same challenges of getting the story down, editing it well, hopefully getting it published and then marketing it. That does give a lot of ground in which to find lots of lovely questions to ask!

Sometimes you can strike gold when your interviewee reveals something that you instantly recognize you’ve got to ask them more about. It is often about the most unexpected things too. My CFT post later this week contains such a gold nugget! Link to go up on Friday. All I’ll say now is it involves transport!


Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

The joy of flash fiction is its brevity. No words wasted. A powerful impact on the reader made very quickly. But, as with the standard short story, all moods and emotional reactions can be covered in the form (which is why I called my book what I have!). Indeed, I think it a good thing that there is variety here. I like to see my flash collection as a “selection box” of moods and stories.

I suppose it’s indicative of human nature that no one person likes the same thing all the time. I love humorous fiction but also appreciate crime stories, historical tales and so on and I like to mix up what I read too. I wouldn’t want to just read (or indeed write) one thing all the time. Another joy of flash is that you can sample different styles of writing and moods very quickly. You could even use a flash collection to try out stories in genres you’ve not read before.

Happy reading and writing!


Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Write what you know, so they say.
But influences come out in your every word.
Sometimes they’re buried away
For years but they will find a way of being heard.
Time means nothing there, you’ll find.
So read widely, both non-fiction or a tall tale.
You’ll feed your creative mind.
Ensure the whole story does not stumble or pale.
Strong “people” reflect our best
While the weak characters will reflect our worst side
Write, rewrite, then let it rest
Every writer has to have a skin made of hide.
Some will not get what you do.
But it’s true you won’t like everything they invent
Rejections can make you blue.
It’s all part of the process you can’t circumvent.
Ask where your story would fit.
Target well, it improves your chances of a hit!

Allison Symes – 15th March 2018

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

I have a framed poster above my desk which says “Don’t ever give up on your dreams”. (Good advice. Okay, sometimes the dreams have to change for myriads of reasons. Just because you can’t be a novelist that doesn’t stop you from becoming a short story writer etc). But it also struck me this line could be a great motivator for a character.

What are the character’s dreams? Just what are they prepared to do to achieve them? What obstacles are in the way? Is he/she/it encouraged or are others holding them back? (You could also look into what their agenda was).

Feature Image - Facts and Fiction - image via Pixabay

What writing triggers will help you create your new worlds? Image via Pixabay

Time to find a new place to call home perhaps - what stories could that lead to - image via Pixabay

Time to have another home perhaps? Good stories to be had here! Image via Pixabay

Note taking is an invaluable aid to retaining what you learn at conferences, image via Pixabay

Write, edit, write, edit… image via Pixabay

Nobody gets their ideas spot on immediately, image via Pixabay

Nobody gets their ideas right first go. Image via Pixabay.

Escape with a good book via Pixabay

Escape with a good book, it’s good for you! Image via Pixabay

Fairytales with Bite – What is Behind Your Stories?

In my interview with fellow Chapeltown Books author, Gail Aldwin, for Chandler’s Ford Today this week, she shares with me how her round the world bus trip influenced her flash fiction.  She also shares some of the research she carried out into where paisley comes from given the title of her flash fiction collection is Paisley Shirt.  One of the things I love about these kind of interviews is discovering what has influenced a writer to come up with what they have!  There are so many influences…

This is also why every writer, regardless of genre, should read widely and well in non-fiction and fiction, classic and contemporary works.  You are literally feeding your mind.  You can’t know in advance what book it is you read that will spark off ideas of your own.  You will just know it when you come to it.  So have plenty of fun reading lots of lovely books!  It is good for your own writing.

I used to worry about picking up other writers’ styles doing this but have found it not to be the case.  I read something that sparks off an idea in me and I then write that idea down in my style only because, well, it is the only style I have.  After all, doesn’t every author want their work to be uniquely something from them?  That’s where the joy of writing is – in creating something that is unique to you.

A lot of the fairytales are retelling of stories passed down orally over many generations.  Sometimes there can be agendas behind stories.  Hans Christen Andersen must have had concern for the poor as his agenda behind The Little Match Girl (and probably the hypocrisy of people being horrified at what happened to his character yet doing nothing to allievate suffering themselves).

So what is behind your stories?  Why have you created your characters as you have?  I was surprised when I was looking back at my draft of From Light to Dark and Back Again how often the theme of poetic justice came up.  That wasn’t planned (well not consciously anyway).  I also hadn’t planned the variation in moods of the stories that formed the book (though it did help inspire the book’s title!).  Look back at what you have written and see if you can spot what is really behind it.  It may well inspire other stories!

This World and Others – Character Journeys

My latest Chandler’s Ford Today post features fellow Chapeltown Books author, Gail Aldwin, and how her round the world bus journey influenced her flash fiction.

The obvious character journey (well for me it is!) is that of Frodo Baggins in The Lord of the Rings.  Everything about this story is epic!  However, character journeys can be much smaller than that.  Scrooge went on a journey of sorts as he transformed from a miserable miser to a generous (and much happier) man in A Christmas Carol.

So what journeys are your characters going on? If it is a physical journey, why are they making it?  Do they like travelling or is is something where they have no choice?  What obstacles must they overcome?  What is the landscape like?  Are they from a background where travelling is normal?  (It generally wasn’t for hobbits so Frodo’s journey was unusual from that angle).

If the journey is more of a character development one, is the journey a good one or a bad?  (People can go from being good to bad, so why not characters?).  Is it a successful journey?  What is the impact of the character change on them and those around them?  Change can threaten others so how is this dealt with?




Conferences, Dead Time and Reading

Facebook – General

Thoroughly enjoyed the Association of Christian Writers’ day in Derby on journalism on Saturday. Love learning from writer events like this. Have found before that, even though I might not use some information now, I do end up using it later! Brought home some ideas I hope to investigate further and am not saying more than that for now.

On the fiction side, I am finalising a short story for a competition. I am also looking forward to sharing a two-part interview with a fellow Chapeltown Books author on Chandler’s Ford Today. Part 1 will be up on Friday.

Am getting better at using “dead” time. I spent my train journeys to and from Derby using the fabulous Evernote to draft a blog post for ACW, a future CFT one and some ideas for what I hope will end up being my third flash fiction collection. I also got to talk to a children’s writer on the train home. One of the lovely things about writing is, when you do meet up with fellow writers, you’ve got an instant topic of conversation!

Oh and you never get bored!


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Facebook – General

The only problem with going to writing conferences is catching up with things again on getting home! Still, I can think of worst problems.

Sorry to hear about Ken Dodd. Never got to see him live but enjoyed his TV and radio shows. (Radio 4 Extra sometimes repeats the latter, expect they will soon. Worth a listen).

Priorities this week are to finish editing a short story and, as always, CFT. Why does editing always take longer than you think it will, no matter what your level of experience is?! Or is this just me? Answers on a postcard….

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Facebook – General

Do you like short, sharp paragraphs or longer, more detailed ones? For me, it depends on the kind of story I’m reading or writing. I would expect a thriller to have the first kind of paragraph with a family saga having more of the second kind.

Overall, what matters is that each word, each paragraph etc moves the story on and genuinely can’t be cut from the tale without wrecking it. You know you’ve carried out a good editing job when you reach that point in a story!

Sometimes a more detailed paragraph can be used to indicate the time period a story is set in, given you would expect more “wordy” paragraphs in a tale set long before social media came in. Choice of words must be appropriate to the character, the time period and the setting.

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

I’ve spent a lot of the weekend in Derby at an Association of Christian Writers’ Day on journalism (it was fab) so used a lot of the time on the train journeys scribbling away via the wonderful Evernote on my phone. Jotted down ideas for several flash fiction pieces and am really looking forward to writing them up.

I am getting better at using “dead” time like this and when I had to take my car in for service, while I was waiting, I wrote three flash pieces (which are part of my second collection now submitted to Chapeltown Books). I felt distinctly miffed when they told me my car was ready as I had settled down quite well, thank you. There was a tea and coffee machine, loos, and I was all set for further writing! The really great thing here? No distractions… ah well.


Most of us struggle to have as much time to read as we'd like - image via Pixabay

I think most of us struggle to find as much time to write as we’d like.  Image via Pixabay

Publishing has to start with a blank page - image via Pixabay

From start to finish here perhaps?  The blank to the printed page.  Image via Pixabay


The To Be Read pile - image via Pixabay

The to be read pile! Image via Pixabay

A few books to choose to read from here - image via Pixabay

Plenty to enjoy here! Image via Pixabay

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Do you start your story with a title in mind or do you write the tale and then the title comes to you as a result?

I find I must have a title to “peg” my ideas to but often have to change the title to a more suitable one, once I’ve got the story down. I have, on occasion, tried to work without a title but soon found myself feeling “lost” without one! So I take the attitude now it is all in draft anyway so it doesn’t matter if I change the title half a dozen times until I’ve got it right for the piece.

Goodreads Author Programme – Blog

I have spent many a fine evening re-reading favourite novels and short stories. For me, there is no such thing as a book beyond its “read by”date.

It has been my experience even books written in styles we wouldn’t use now have some entertainment value and I can usually learn something from the way the author has written their characters. I usually pick up something on each reading.

As for contemporary reading, I am reading a fair number of flash fiction collections, I love reading history (and historical fiction), as well as crime. I am reading far more non-fiction than I used to but I think this may be a reflection of the fact I’m writing non-fiction now as well.

Having a Kindle has increased the amount of reading I do too. I do like the “Look Inside” feature and have often used this. I was glad it was available on my own flash fiction collection. This has given me many chances to try books I wouldn’t have necessarily thought of trying.




The Frustrations of Publishing

Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

Am a night early with my Chandler’s Ford Today post this week. Am away at an ACW conference so thought it best to schedule for this evening!

In writing my 101 Things to Put into Room 101, I came to a topic that deserves its own vault all by itself – the frustrations of publishing. There are few authors who can’t sympathise with this topic, though it has been great to share links to both the Society of Authors and the Alliance of Independent Authors in this post. Writers need all the support they can get!

Will be back to the Room 101 series in a couple of weeks or so, as this post leads into a two-part interview with fellow Chapeltown author, Gail Aldwin, who will be talking about her own route to publication.

I have yet to interview a writer whose route to publication was straight forward or easy! Nature of the beast I suspect!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

When stuck for an idea or two
Have a go at something brand new
Don’t say this is me being rash.
Doing this got me into flash!

Allison Symes 8th March 2019

I accept I’m never going to be offered the Poet Laureate’s post based on my doggerel above. Just as well too, I think. However, the verse is true! It really was my being open to the idea of having a go at Cafelit’s100-word challenge that meant I discovered the joys of flash fiction. Had it not been for that, I wouldn’t have a book to my name now.

One of the great joys of creative writing is to have fun with it and one great way of doing that is to mix up what you write. So go ahead, give flash fiction a go!

Fairytales with Bite – The Frustrations of Publishing

My Chandler’s Ford Today post looks at the frustrations of publishing.  I expect you may have experienced most of them! However, there are two classic ways out of at least some of these.  One is to self publish and the other is to seek publication via the small, independent press.  I chose the latter route!  More in the post…

The main frustration I feel is the Catch 22 one of people wanting you to have a track record before they will take you on, yet the only way to get that track record is to be published!  It is also highly appropriate to use the phrase Catch 22 too given we’re talking about getting books out there…

Back to our fictional worlds though – what role does literature play in it?  Who “controls” literature?  Could your characters be published writers?  What form of writing do they use?  Do they have stories as we understand them?  Who are the publishers  in your setting(s)?  Does the government exercise any control over what the public can read?

(I like the thought of there being an underground library for those not wanting to just read what is on a government’s approved list!).

This World and Others – Overcoming Frustrations

My Chandler’s Ford Today post this week looks at (some of) the frustrations of publishing.

How do your characters overcome the inevitable frustrations they will face?  Do they handle them well or badly?  What are the consequences  of their reactions?  Are there frustrations caused by government (too much bureaucracy etc?

How do your characters face the day to day frustrations and when it comes to being under continuing pressures, how do they handle that?

I'm not arguing with this - image via Pixabay

I’m not arguing with this one! Image via Pixabay.

A familiar desk scene for writers - image via Pixabay

The writer’s desk. What do you hope will emerge from yours this coming year? Image via Pixabay.

The best advice for any writer - image via Pixabay

And prepare well!

Feature Image - Flash Fiction - Books are Gateway - image via Pixabay

Says it all really and applies to non-fiction equally as fiction. Image via Pixabay.


Flash – for light or dark fiction! Image via Pixabay


Fantasy may look at other worlds but often reflects on our own. Time is different too. Music can interpret worlds too. Think of classic film scores like that for The Lord of the Rings. Image via Pixabay.

Heaven on earth? Image via Pixabay (of the library at Leeds Castle)

Heaven on earth? Image via Pixabay (of the library at Leeds Castle)

Goodreads Author Programme – Blog

I’m a great fan of Agatha Christie. The first set of books I collected from Odhams (remember them?) were hers and I proudly own at least 30 red leather-bound hardbacks.

Each hardback contains two novels or a novel and a set of her short stories (such as The Labours of Hercules).

My favourite character is Jane Marple, though I do love Tommy and Tuppence in The Secret Adversary.

My favourite novel, though, is Murder on the Orient Express because it looks at whether murder is ever justified, even when the usual justice system fails.

It’s still a pertinent question. Even more pertinent is the fact the justice system shouldn’t fail but can do. Desperation and anger drive people to do desperate things and this is very much reflected in this book.

I also liked the David Suchet TV version of this. His Poirot was in angry anguish over what happened (and by implication what drove those events in the first place).

So what are your favourite Agatha books?

Character Study

Facebook – General

Do your characters look back at their lives at all? (You should as their creator! Have they developed? If so, positively or negatively? How does this impact on the story?). If the characters do look back at their own lives, why are they doing it? Are they trying to learn from past mistakes and do they actually do so? How does that “look back” change their behaviour (for better or worse) and how does that change the direction in which they go?

Sometimes Character B can look back at Character A’s life and this can be because:-

1. They don’t like the changes in A’s life now (and they may be right to take that view!). By drawing A’s attention to this, B is hoping to get A back to where they used to be.

2. Character B is comparing themselves with A, especially if A has gone on to be really successful. (We all do this for real so why shouldn’t our characters do so?! What is interesting here is how does B respond? Are they jealous? Do they seek to improve themselves or try to “do A down”?).

3. Character B is delighted Character A has changed (and again they may well be right. Equally they may be pleased because A has worsened and it makes B look better! B does not have to have noble motives here!).

All three of these points could generate some fascinating stories.

Facebook – General

One thing to consider when creating your characters is to work out what impact they have on other characters. Naturally, this can be for good or evil. Equally, it can be a happy or sad impact. How would the death of a character affect your story world and its other residents?

There would have to be some impact made, even by a minor character (otherwise why are they in the story at all?). Is a character killed because the assassin(s) know the death will change the political situation in your story world (if so, how?) or it gets a rival out of the way? How did that character become a rival in the first place?

How does personal history impact on the characters themselves? Family background and circumstances usually do impact somewhere. Are they running away from something? Trying to better/prove themselves? Do they succeed?

The history of the story world and the general setting should have an impact on your characters. Someone being brought up in the country will have a different perspective on rural life than someone who has always lived in a town or city and does not know anything about rural life except what they see on the media.

So let your characters have an impact and be impacted upon. Both of these points should generate wonderful tensions within your story and drive the plot along beautifully.

Facebook – General

What do you look for when it comes to the ending of a story?

I don’t necessarily look for a happy ending. What I like to see (and indeed write) is an ending that is appropriate for the characters and the situations they are in. It is so important the ending doesn’t feel forced or “runs out of steam” because you, the writer, were getting to the word count limit!

You also want the ending to wrap up the story with impact. No damp squibs here, thank you!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Facebook – General

I’m taking a shortish break from my 101 Things to Put into Room 101 on Chandler’s Ford Today. This week I’ll be looking at some of the frustrations of publishing and then lead into a two-part feature where I interview a fellow Chapeltown author. More details later.

Some great insights to come from the interview and I suspect most of you will have had direct experience of the frustrations of publishing I will be talking about this week. This aspect of the writing life deserves a whole section in Room 101’s vaults! (It was easier to write about them separately though!).

Will return to the Room 101 series later (and look forward to doing so too. Is there any one of us who doesn’t like a good moan every now and again?!

Books invite you into their world - image via Pixabay

Books invite you into their world. Image via Pixabay

Baubles Medium

My story Helping Out is in Baubles, the Bridge House anthology for 2016

Good advice here - all writers need to fail better - image via Pixabay

Good advice. Image via Pixabay.

Humans are immensely creative - image via Pixabay

Let those ideas flow! Image via Pixabay,


I love walking by water – so calming. Can also inspire how you create your own world. Image by Allison Symes

Use review questions to find out more about your characters, image via Pixabay

Use personal reviews to help you generate characters and story outlines. Image via Pixabay.

I'm not arguing with this - image via Pixabay

I’m not arguing with this one! Image via Pixabay.

Facebook – This World and Others

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.

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

There are certain ways of knowing your created world works. These are:-

You can picture in your head everything from how the world is run politically to who the beings are the world depends on to get anything done.

You can visualise the societies of your world – there are class systems everywhere – and how they interact or, conversely, why they don’t.

You can plan out what the history of the world was, how that affects the current situation you’re writing about in that world, and whether there’s an official version and/or revisionist one.

You can see how towns, villages etc are run and the life that goes on in them regardless of what your story is actually about. (The life of towns/villages etc is bound to affect at least some of your characters – are they rebelling against it? Does it inspire them? Are they acting heroically to defend it?).

You can ask yourself questions about your world and answer them!

And it doesn’t matter if you are “just” writing flash fiction, you still need to know where your characters come from, what drives them etc. How their world operates and how it affects them will have a direct impact on that so you still need to know enough about your setting so you can write about your characters with conviction. That in depth knowledge does show through in what you write.

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

One good thing about flash fiction is that there is nothing to stop you taking characters you enjoyed writing about in this form and then writing longer stories for them. I have done this occasionally (though I find I am so focused on the next idea, the next story, that I don’t do this as often as perhaps I could and should do, but it is something to bear in mind.). Also, a flash piece can be turned into a longer one (so you have two stories on your hands then!).

Another thing you could do is if you have a character in mind for a longer story but are not sure whether they have the capacity to carry the tale, then try them out in a flash piece first. If the character is strong enough to make a good impact in a form that demands a tight word count, no waffle, and getting the story down quickly, then they should have the strength to star in a longer work.

How do you define “good impact”? For me, the characters have to stay with me long after the story has ended. I have to find myself wondering what else they might get up to and so on.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

I wear two writing hats (and often at the same time!). One hat is the flash fiction and the other is my non-fiction work – in particular, my writing for Chandler’s FordToday. But the great thing has been that skills I’ve learned for CFT (especially writing to a deadline and a word count) have been really useful for my fictional side.

So does it pay to expand on what kind of writing you do? I think so!





Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

My latest Chandler’s Ford Today post is Part 2 of my 101 Things to Put into Room 101. Amongst other things, I consign to eternal doom stilettos, bad grammar, confusing road signs and the 5 pence coin. What would you put in the vault?

As for the image below, are the dogs slow? Are the dogs and children slow? Or could it even be that the dogs’ children are slow?! Or are all the animals on this farm slow? (That is anything going faster than a slow walking pace is not kept on this farm?!).

If you ever doubted that the comma is important, then let this convince you it really is, it SO is!

PART 2 - Some commas here would be good - image via Pixabay

Oh for some commas here! Image via Pixabay

PART 2 - You know what it is meant here - image via Pixabay

Really?! Image via Pixabay

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

One thing that is important with flash fiction is you should be reading it as well as writing it (and not stop at just reading your own!). Not only does this give you a greater appreciation of what can be done with the form, you increase your reading of contemporary fiction.

I have no problems at all finding time to read older fiction (Wodehouse, Austen, Dickens etc) but a good reading “diet” must include what is out there now (or has been published fairly recently). Another advantage of reading widely like this is that it will open your eyes to publishers willing to take collections.

Also, I can’t think of any author who wouldn’t appreciate this kind of support. And you would too, wouldn’t you?

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Fairytales With Bite – Biting Comments

My new mini-series on Chandler’s Ford Today is a humorous look at what things I would put into Room 101, that famous creation of George Orwell.  Part 2 of 101 Things to Put into Room 101 includes items as diverse as stilettos, bad grammar and confusing road signs.

I think stilettos are one of the most stupid things ever invented because they’re not good for your feet or your spine.  When I did wear them, back in the day so to speak, I always dreaded getting them caught in some grating somewhere.  Now that comment is not that biting, I feel, but some of my characters do come out with very pointed remarks at time – and rightly so.  It is part of their personality to do so and the situations they face also justify pointed criticism.

So what kind of biting comments would your characters make?  What would drive them to be like that, or are they like this all the time anyway?  How do the other characters respond?  What kind of conflicts can you get out of this to drive the story along?

Have fun finding out!!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This World and Others – Inventions

In my latest Chandler’s Ford Today post, which is Part 2 of 101 Things to Put into Room 101, I list, amongst other things, stilettos.  I describe these as one of the most stupid inventions ever.  They don’t do your feet or your spine any good and when I did wear them in my younger years, I always dreaded getting them caught in a drain cover etc.  There are lots of stupid inventions out there but this is my pet peeve.  They are stupid shoes.

In Terry Pratchett’s marvellous Discworld series, I loved his inventor, Bloody Stupid Johnson, whose ideas never seemed to quite work the way the inventor had envisaged!

So in your created world, who are your creative people, your inventors, your engineers etc?  It helps to bring a world to life if we the readers can see at least part of how your world works for those who live in it.  What are the technologies?  Are your societies developed or are people held back by the lack of progress?

Does your world have anyone whose inventions go wrong or whose ideas get pinched by someone else?  (There is a whole raft of stories there about how someone would cope with that/get their ideas back and so on).



Facebook – General

My favourite Christmas carol, based on a poem by Christina Rossetti, is looking more like a cannily accurate weather forecast right now.

In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter, long ago.

Not sure that Christina meant it to be a weather forecast but this was certainly a case of write what you know given she would have known only too well what a British winter can be like!

Facebook – General

Part 2 of my 101 Things to Put into Room 101 will be my CFT post for this week. Highlights include my thoughts on stilettos (you will guess they’re not good!), to public parking bays, and confusing road signs. Link up tomorrow and, as ever, comments will be welcome.

I won’t be running the series straight through in one “hit” so to speak as I have a lovely author interview coming up soon. Also, it’s probably best not to have all my moans over several consecutive weeks in any case!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

What is encouraging is if you do a quick internet trawl for flash fiction competitions, lots come up! All that is needed then is the time to enter them! It is also encouraging to see big name writing competitions include flash fiction as a new category in its own right. It is amazing to see how far flash has come as a genre over the last 10 years.

I think it will still be a while before people stop asking what flash fiction is thought. (Still, that’s all part of the “mission to explain”, isn’t it? I’ve found to date the best way of explaining flash fiction is to read examples of it – from From Light to Dark and Back Again naturally!).

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

What is your favourite kind of flash fiction?

I’m a drabbler, one who generally writes the 100-words stories. The majority of the tales in From Light to Dark and Back Again are of this ilk.

But one nice thing about flash is there is nothing to stop you mixing up the types you write. I’ve written 250, 500, 750 and even the odd 50-words tales. (The latter makes me a dribbler as well. I’d love to know who invented these terms – they make you sound as if you might have an unfortunate complaint!).

So go ahead, mix up your flash fiction and have fun with it! I’ve found my natural default position is the good old drabble but there are some storylines which need to be a bit longer than that, so fine I can do it without straying into short story territory. (Though I must admit I do like doing that too!).