Panto, Numbers, and Publication News

A real mixed bag tonight but hope you enjoy!

Image Credits:-

Firstly, a huge thank you to the lovely people at The Chameleon Theatre Group for kind permission to use their photos as part of my review for Chandler’s Ford Today this week. I’ve included a couple of photos I’ve taken but the majority are from them.

Secondly, all thanks to Pixabay as usual for the other images used. Thirdly, thank you to Penny Blackburn for the picture of me taking part in the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School Open Prose Mic Night last year. Great fun! Now down to business…

Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

Delighted to share my review of the excellently performed show, Atlantis – The Panto. Well done to all at The Chameleon Theatre Group. Also I look at why an eclectic mix of music and a decent villain are vital to a good pantomime. Both are as important ingredients to a successful show as having a convincing Dame is.

I was intrigued by this story as it is not one I knew. How does an underwater adventure work as a pantomime? Well I had to find out…  Captions as ever for the Chameleon photos over on the CFT link.

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I loved going to the panto by The Chameleon Theatre Group last week. (Oh no you didn’t, oh yes I did, oh no…etc etc!). I had no idea what Atlantis – The Panto would be given it is not one of the classic fairytales pantomimes are usually based on. All I knew was it would have to have an underwater setting and I was interested to find out how that would be conveyed. (Good use of suitable music, the right costumes, props etc is the simple answer to that).

For stories, especially flash fiction, inference and implication play a big part in scene setting. If I told you someone was wearing a red coat, that would conjure up possible images for you. (For me, it would conjure up memories of a favourite red coat I had as a kid). If I then add one hyphenated word “moth-eaten”, that image will change, as will the mood of the story. The person wearing said moth-eaten coat is going to be poor, possibly homeless, and that will set the tone of the story too.

Facebook – General – and Publication News – Cafelit

Glad to say I’m Bored by yours truly is now up on Cafelit. If you ever wanted to know the true story of what happened to Humpty Dumpty, now’s your chance! Hope you enjoy it.

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I’ll be reviewing Atlantis – The Panto as my CFT post this week. Definitely a new story for me but that’s one of the joys of going to see the productions put on by The Chameleon Theatre Group. There is such a variety of work staged by them and it always makes for a fantastic evening out. I’m a big fan of taking in stories using various formats and going to see a good show is just another and very enjoyable way to do that.

Link up tomorrow. I’ll be looking at the signs of a good panto, why music matters for shows like this, and why there has to be a decent villain for the audience to boo at! It IS as vital to get the villain right as it is for the Dame to be what audiences expect. I’ll also have a look at why the panto, in my view, is vital for theatre going overall.

All good fun…

 

Facebook – General – Association of Christian Writers – More than Writers – Numbers and Creative Writing

There are more links between numbers and fiction than you might think. Hope you enjoy my latest blog for the Association of Christian Writers’ More Than Writers blog spot, which discusses numbers and creative writing and there are plenty of links between the two. Mind you, my first love will always be words, glorious words!

I also share some thoughts on how to manage word counts and competition deadlines.

 

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Can one word make a difference to a story? Oh yes. I talked about this over on my author page tonight (Allison Symes Fairytale Lady – https://www.facebook.com/Allison.Symes.FairytaleLady/).

One word can turn a mood. One word can change how a story ends. I’ve long thought of flash fiction as precision writing and this is why. It’s also why if you’ve got a powerful story that works really well at, say, 250 words, leave it there! Don’t try and edit it down to get it into a 100 word competition or market. Impact on the reader is the most important thing, then the word count, and not the other way round.

Story matters. The format less so. I like to take in my stories via:-

Books, obviously.
Kindle.
Seeing them performed as plays, pantomimes etc. (I love the whole concept of National Theatre Live. Brilliant idea).
Audio books
Magazines
The vinyl version of H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds as produced by Jeff Wayne (which is just brilliant. Richard Burton was a wonderful narrator).
Hearing them on radio. (You can count TV drama obviously though I admit I’m watching less TV and I wasn’t impressed with what was on offer over Christmas).
Via film.

For flash fiction the top two have been the main outlets for me. It is a hope of mine that flash fiction can draw in the reluctant reader and if that has to be via electronic means, so be it. Get hooked on books. You know it makes sense!

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I’ve mentioned before I always feel a certain amount of relief when I get a first draft done of any writing. I feel like I’ve “nailed something down” to the screen or paper (I still occasionally write in longhand) and from there onwards the draft is going to get better. It is precisely what editing is all about!

I also like to have more than one project on the go as while I’m working on one, my subsconsious can mull over any issues I’m having with something else. It is almost inevitable an idea to resolve those issues WILL occur when I’m working on something else.

I’ve learned not to fight that and just go with it. It’s what a notebook and pen besides the laptop is for after all so those ideas that suddenly come to me don’t disappear into the author’s hell-hole called Lost Ideas That Were Brilliant But You Will Never Know Will You Because You Did Not Write Them Down At The Time! (Most of us HAVE been there and often more than once!).

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Fairytales With Bite – Keeping Fairytales Alive

As shown above, the pantomime is one great way to keep fairytales alive given most of them are based on the classic stories. Long may that fantastic tradition continue.

I am, of course, very fond of fairytales told from the viewpoints of different characters as my first published story, A Helping Hand, in Bridge House Publishing’s Alternative Renditions anthology, comes into that category. It is a popular theme and I’ve seen it used in other competitions and rightly so too. There are a wealth of stories (and therefore characters) you could do this for.

The Disney adaptations also play a part in keeping fairytales alive though I would always recommend going back to the original stories to compare and contrast what Disney kept in and, often, what they had to keep out to retain a Universal certificate for the cinema.

I also can’t see good old-fashioned reading fairytales to children stopping either. Children know what they like in stories and fairytales do tick the right boxes there. Then the likes of Roald Dahl and David Walliams could be considered to be modern fairytale tellers too.

Long live the fairytale!

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This World and Others – How the Other Half Lives…

While readers don’t need to know the ins and outs of your creative world, they have to be convinced that in some dimension somewhere, your world is realistically enough portrayed to have a chance of existing!

Basically this means your characters need to have shelter, be able to eat, drink and so on and therefore a society has to spring up around them so these needs are met. Some of those societies will be close to what we know here. Others will be different but readers will be able to pick up on how it works. (Can’t say I’d like living in Mordor – it’s the ultimate in grim!).

One of my favourite quotes on this topic is from the much missed Terry Pratchett, who referred to building his Discworld “from the bottom up”. That is, he worked out how waste was disposed of, how water was supplied etc.

You need to decide what you need to know here so you can write with conviction about your setting and the characters in it. I’ve focused on system of government for a longer project I’m working on. Whatever way you go in for this, it does have to be something readers can identify with. Good luck!

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Playing with Words – and Just a Minute

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Would anyone be able to identify you if there were no distinguishing markers and the only clues someone had were three books you own?

I ask as I played the Guess the Book Owner game recently. I was part of a team and it wasn’t easy to match a book to who nominated it from the other team.

The good thing was there was an eclectic mixture of books and the teams were clearly well read!

Which books would you choose and why? In the game I played I could only pick one book and that was tough.

The idea was to look for clues in what was chosen and deduce the owner also from what was already known about them. And we still got many wrong on first guess!

I chose The Great War by Dawn Knox, a book of 100 x 100-word stories all linked to WW1. The characterisation is wonderful and the stories deeply moving. Do check it out.

Flash fiction may be short but it can pack quite a punch for its word count size.

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One joy of the smartphone is listening to Classic FM on my travels via my trusty headphones. Good music of any genre, like good books, can take you away from the cares of the world for a while.

I suppose this is one reason why I love fantasy and fairytales. I know those worlds will be very different to anything we experience here. Perfect escapism though I often feel a sense of huge relief I don’t live in the worlds I’ve just read about!

Mind you, I can think of characters of mine I would never want to Mmeet in life! I should imagine crime and horror writers always feel like that!

 

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Well, how did your Monday go? I’m back to the fray after a lovely weekend away.

Tonight’s post comes to you from my desk.

Last night’s came from the 5.12 pm train from Waterloo to Weymouth, which took a detour via Twickenham and Chertsey before finally reaching Woking and carrying on with its normal route.

Still the extra time travelling meant more writing was done by yours truly. (Couldn’t tell you what Twickenham and Chertsey looked like as by the time we got there, it was dark. If you can’t have a good view, get on with some writing is my motto).

Pockets of time like this mount up and it’s amazing how much you can get done when you’re made to focus. (So from a writing viewpoint there IS a point to engineering works!).😀😀

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So sorry to hear the news of the death of Nicholas Parsons. I adore Just A Minute and my late mum had the show on almost religiously every Monday at 6.30 pm.

I can’t hear the theme tune (Chopin) without thinking of her old radio in one corner of the kitchen and JAM blaring out. Mum was particularly fond of Nicholas Parsons and Kenneth Williams.

JAM is not only good fun but it can be quite educational in terms of what you can do with the English language. I’ve always adored word play and JAM is an excellent example of it. If it’s not something you’ve come across, see if you can check out back episodes of it. It can help improve your own vocabulary too and above all it is great fun.

I very much hope they can continue the show but it won’t be the same without Nicholas. Nor do I think we’ll see his like again. To be broadcasting the same show for over 50 years is some achievement.

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Name a moment in a book or a film that took your breath away. I can think of several but my favourites include the Ring of Power being cast into Mount Doom in The Lord of the Rings, and the truth about Severus Snape being revealed in the Harry Potter series.

Both of these are emotionally charged and you are gripped by the characterisation. You have to find out if the Ring gets destroyed and what Harry’s reaction will be to what he now knows about Snape.

So what are your “have to find out” moments in your stories? There is rarely a case for lowering tension in a tale!

 

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It was lovely sharing the news about Tripping The Flash Fantastic with my colleagues on the ACW Committee this weekend. We were at a Retreat making plans for events we run etc. It was also lovely hearing everybody else’s writing news. There is a great mix of styles and genres represented here too.

This is one aspect of writing I love. There are so many genres and styles, there will be at least one which suits you. And there is plenty of scope for interesting chats at writing events. I am always fascinated by what others write and why they went that particular route.

Naturally I wave the flag for flash fiction!😄

 

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Monday, Monday, fly away,
Come again another…. week.
After a long, hard day’s work
It’s inspiration I seek.

Allison Symes – 27th January 2020

I suspect this will ring true for many of you! If you do find one particular day of the week tougher than others to get going on the writing front (and tiredness is such a huge factor here), try some flash fiction writing.

Have fun, pick a word count of your choice to aim for and go for it.

When you’re tired and you don’t feel like writing much, having some flash fiction on the go gives a useful writing exercise you can polish up and submit to markets later on, when you do have more time and don’t feel so tired!

Creativity is good for you. Having smaller things to work on is particularly useful when you haven’t as much time or energy as you’d like. Nobody said creativity always has to be about the large projects.

There will rightly be many tributes to the late, great Nicholas Parsons, who hosted the wonderful Just a Minute for over 50 years. The word play on this show is fabulous and I think inspirational for all writers, whether you stick to the very short form or enjoy penning epics. Showing you what you can do with the English language has to be something all writers can learn from, I think.

One of my favourite aspects to JAM has been when Paul Merton came up with fantastical stories on all kinds of subjects and speaks for a minute without interruption, deviation, or repetition. Flash stories in radio format, maybe?

If you get a chance to listen to old episodes, do so and listen out for these in particular. There is some fabulous storytelling too. Kenneth Williams could also be brilliant at sharing wonderful snippets of information on this show yet get it across as if he was telling a story. (Stories are to my mind one of the best ways of getting information across. People like to listen to stories. They don’t necessarily want to listen to facts told in an unentertaining way!).

The challenge to writers is to get our stories and articles across in a way that people will want to read them/listen to them. Playing with the language is fun for the writer but also for the reader when it is done well.

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Goodreads Author Blog – Books With Meaning

All good books have meaning (especially to their writers!) but some are so special.

I inherited my mother’s hardback Charles Dickens collection and, while I confess I have not read them all, every time I see them, I smile and think of Mum.

I also have an old edition of Pride and Prejudice, which I read ahead of reading it officially at school.

Did I regret having to read it again? Oh no. I picked up on points directly, and thanks to the guidance of my excellent English teacher, Miss Mackenzie, thanks to that second read.

And Pride and Prejudice can withstand multiple readings, which is always a sign of a good book!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s Panto Time – Oh Yes It Is!

Time Away is the title and theme of my CFT post this week. I look at why it is important (nobody works well on a flat battery after all) and share some ways I have time away even when at home.


I drafted this on my way to an ACW Committee Retreat and am having time away literally, but also thanks to the joys of headphones and Classic FM. Mind you, writing is a fabulous way to be in a world of your own!



https://chandlersfordtoday.co.uk/time-away/


My CFT post this week is called Time Away. I look at the importance of having some (!) and why I don’t really like the word retreat.

I also look at how I work, writing wise, when away (and yes Evernote and my trusty phone play a huge part in that), but I also look at ways I have “time away” even when I am at home. Link up sometime on Friday (yes I am having time away this weekend so it is a timely post).

Am looking forward to a CFT “works outing” to the panto Atlantis tomorrow night. My lovely editor, Janet Williams, and I will have a lovely evening being entertained by The Chameleon Theatre Group though, in fairness, they will entertain the rest of the audience as well! 😆😆

And it has been so nice this week to get out with the dog and not get an absolute soaking! (Mind, Lady really doesn’t care. She dries far quicker than I do!).

I’m off to the panto tonight (oh yes, I am!). I’ll be going to see Atlantis, the production by The Chameleon Theatre Group. It’s not a story I know so am looking forward to finding out what it is!

Signs of a good panto:-

1. Lots of laughs.

2. Dreadful puns – and loads of them.

3. Physical comedy usually involving props.

4. Someone HAS to say “it’s behind you” at some point (though quite how that is going to work in an underwater setting, I am keen to find out!).

5. There will be a Dame with a very dodgy wig and over the top makeup. (And the setting can be anywhere from underwater to outer space and you’ll still have this!).

6. Jokes the kids won’t get but you will. Oh yes you will…

7. Some references to today’s culture (pop songs, who is taking part in X Factor etc. Most of that will go over my head. I have no interest whatsoever in X Factor but I’ll pick things up from context).

8. A total lack of subtlety.

9. A longer term result of a good panto is when kids especially are more willing to go to the theatre later on because they adored going to panto. Christopher Biggins mentioned panto creates the future theatre audiences on a recent edition of Pointless Celebrities. He’s right on that. (I’d love flash fiction to be a way into reading longer works for reluctant readers. You do have to start somewhere).

10. Everyone leaves having had a fab time, and that goes for the cast too!

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

One aspect to travelling is all sorts of mini moments occur, any one or more of which could trigger story ideas. The idea though is these things should only be a trigger.

You hear a couple arguing over something that seems trivial to you but which clearly matters to them. So think about situations where your characters do that.

Why is winning the argument so important? Who does win and how? What are the consequences?

Have fun!

Flash fiction makes you focus on THE single most important aspect of your story. I like to think of it as precision writing but as I’ve mentioned before the most important factor for me is the impact my tale will have on a reader.

Then, and only then, do I worry about the word count. If a story works better at 250 words then so be it. I just submit it to relevant markets/competitions instead of, say, the 100 word market/competition I thought of initially.

Nobody says you have to like every single one of your characters! You do have to understand their motivations well though. Agreeing with them is another matter entirely!

Whatever your length of story though, it is crucial to have a really strong character you will enjoy writing about, even if you hate what they do.


I’ll be enjoying the one-liners in Atlantis, the panto currently being staged by The Chameleon Theatre Group.

A very good one-liner will have a huge impact on the listener/reader. It can turn things around in the course of few words (and that’s a good trick for any flash fiction writer to learn).

One aspect of pantos I love is where they have mini stories within the overall one. I’ve always had a soft spot for them and I’m looking forward to finding out what the ones in tonight’s production are. There will be some and they will tie in with the main plot seamlessly too. (Again a good thing for any fiction writer to do).



Fairytales With Bite

A classic pantomime is often based on fairytales for several reasons:-

  1. Everyone knows the story. Part of the fun in panto is knowing why the jokes work. You need to know the story for that.
  2. The fairytales have strong and clear plot lines with obvious goodies and baddies.
  3. Fairytales are open to sub-plots. The story of Widow Twankey is not the main part of the Aladdin story. It’s good fun though and the character has become a brilliant one to use as the pantomime Dame – dodgy wig, over the top clothes, and make up that has to be seen to be believed.
  4. Happy ever after endings, which are a must for panto, are a strong point for fairytales.

And panto plays its part in keeping fairytales alive.




This World and Others

Another reason why I loathe the idea of fairytales being twee and only for kids is because, while the world is a magical and strange one, the characters are realistic.

The fairytale writers show an in-depth understanding of human nature and just what we can be capable of doing and saying.In our created worlds, no matter how oddball they are, we need to do the same.

Readers latch on to characters. Finding out about the strange world they live is is huge fun but it is the character portayal that draws us into that world in the first place.



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Trailers, Tea (Peppermint), and Time

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Pleased to say the book trailer for The Best of Cafelit 8 has now been added to the trailers page on my website.

I’m also delighted to say a copy of the paperback is now on display at The Framing Shop in Hiltingbury, along with a copy of From Light to Dark and Back Again. Many thanks to Frith who runs the cafe there as there is now a selection of books by local authors in there. Naturally I hope to add a copy of Tripping the Flash Fantastic in due course!

 

Books on display at The Framing Shop in Hiltingbury

Books on display at The Framing Shop in Hiltingbury. Image by Allison Symes

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Image from Chapeltown Books

Allison Symes and published works

Image taken by Adrian Symes

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Image from Bridge House Publishing

SEASONS IN WRITING - hot chocolate

Favourite moments in time include:-

1. Getting to the end of reading a great book and knowing you’ll enjoy it all over again when you re-read it. (You just know you will).

2. Getting to the end of a first draft of a story and knowing you’ve got the basics down. It’s now down to fine tuning it and cutting what you don’t need.

3. Getting that fine tuning and cutting done!

4. Hearing you’re going to be published. (That one gives a buzz which never fades away).

5. Coming in to a wonderful warm house after a cold winter’s walk with the dog and knowing you don’t have to go out again that day! (This is even nicer when you’ve got caught in the rain and can come in for a towel dry and a cup of hot chocolate. Naturally the dog just gets the towel dry!).

6. Discovering an adaptation of a favourite story actually works and hasn’t ruined the tale for you.

7. Your favourite piece of classical music comes on the radio. (Holst – Jupiter from the Planet Suite – before you ask).

8. You close down for the night, knowing you’ve got a lot of productive writing done. (That gives a great buzz too).

9. Swanwick Writers’ Summer School – the entire week. Enough said.

10. Meeting up with writer friends and picking up conversation from where you last left off, no matter how long ago it was you last saw them. (See 9 above).

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One problem series novelists can have is coming to loathe their creations. Agatha Christie and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle famously did so with Poirot and Holmes.

Now as a flash fiction writer, I’m always creating new characters so surely this problem doesn’t exist for me then?

Not exactly. I’ve still got to really love the character I’ve invented to write their story with conviction. I’ve only had two occasions where I’ve abandoned a story and rightly never came back to it again. Both times the character just didn’t grip me and well if they didn’t work for me, they weren’t going to work for anyone else.

I hadn’t put enough thought into these particular characters. I’ve got to know what makes them tick and why. I don’t have to like them, many of my characters I’d never want to meet in life (!), but I do have to understand where they are coming from. If I haven’t got that, I haven’t got anyone to write about!

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One good thing about the cold weather is it increases your pace when walking the dog. (Not that Lady minds).

For story writing I tend to increase pace (when I need to) by:-

1. Keeping my sentences short.
2. Keeping my paragraphs short. (This also avoids having big blocks of text which can be offputting to a reader).

When reviewing my story I look for continual movement. What is my character doing? Why? When they are thinking, are those thoughts conducive to their attaining their goal or reveal things the reader needs to know?

By checking for this, I am also looking at the pace throughout the story. It should be building up towards the resolution.

When there are apparent periods of calm in the story, it should be that the character is about to be dropped right in it again by their creator!

Periods of calm don’t last long in a story. They can’t. Nothing happens. Boring for a reader. Equally boring for the writer. But a brief period of calm is fine. It enables both the reader and writer to get their collective breaths back, ready for the next event.

The important thing is to ensure there are no boring bits. The periods of calm should be used to show the reader something useful that connects with what has gone before and with what is about to come.

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Pleased to share news that FLTDBA is now on display at The Framing Shop in Hiltingbury (along with a copy of The Best of Cafelit 8). It is great that venues like this are supporting local authors (and in this case encouraging all local artists of any kind to display work).

Many thanks to all who kindly commented on my CFT post on Numbers into Writing Will Go and it was great one comment flagged up the the annual children’s 500-word story competition run by Radio 2. I’m thrilled this competition is encouraging children to enjoy flash fiction writing. I hope it leads to more engagement with reading as well as writing. Good luck to all who take part in the competition.

Less is definitely more for flash fiction and I agree with the commentator who felt so much could be packed into few words. It is one of the things I love most about the form though my absolute favourite is because it has to be character led, I can set those characters in whatever genre and time period I like. (And I do!).

Five Favourite Thoughts on Flash Fiction:-

1. It really does have to be character led but the great thing is you can set those characters wherever and whenever you want.

2. If one word count limit size doesn’t suit you, there are plenty of others to try! I love the drabble (the 100-words story) but sometimes I feel a story of mine has more impact at 150 words and would lose out if I tried to force it to fit to a lower count so I don’t do so. I would submit that story to sub-250 words competition/market instead of a 100-words one.

3. I think it has great possibilities of encouraging the reluctant reader precisely because the format is not asking too much of said reluctant reader in one go. Once you can hook someone into reading, then the delights of longer stories and novels await (I hope!). I also find flash stories brilliant to read when I’ve finished reading a novel and am not sure which one to go for next from my TBR pile.

4. Flash fiction is great for reading on screen so it can “catch” those who like to do their reading that way.

5. From a writer’s viewpoint, it is easy enough to share flash fiction on websites, posts like this one, to show what you do. The best way to “sell” flash fiction is to demonstrate what it is!

I’ve never really used colour in my stories (other than for a brief description of something). I tend to focus on the mood of the story in terms of whether it is a light piece, a dark one, or somewhere in between. (One huge advantage of that approach was it made finding a title for my first flash fiction collection that much easier!).

Where colour did come in was in deciding what worked best for the book cover. I went for the green but had pondered over a deep blue. I am looking forward to thinking again about that aspect of things for my next collection (though I am already thinking about this and what could be on the cover. It’s not a decision to rush! It IS one to savour though…!).

I’m not sure how you could define a “purple” story anyway but maybe it would be fun to find out…

 

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The one item I am most keen to get right in a flash fiction story is its ending. Why?

Well, nobody likes a story, of any length, that falls flat, for a start.

Also I love twist in the tale endings and these work particularly well for flash fiction. So I need to check the twist IS really a twist and that it is something which does develop out of the story. As someone once said, the clues are there…

I know if I can get the ending right and the beginning feels flat, I can change that beginning so it suits my super-duper finale.

Likewise, I’ve sometimes come up with a better idea for my title as a result of getting the ending right.

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Goodreads Author Blog – 

Books and Their Accompaniments

Is it possible to have too many book shelves?

No! Okay so you can run out of room to put up said book shelves, which is another reason I think to have at least some reading material on a Kindle.

End of problem (until your “shelves” on there fill up and you realise you’re not going to be short of things to read much before 2050 but hey it’s a lovely problem to have!).

The other book accompaniment I love is the good old book mark. Some of them are lovely and I enjoy collecting those issued by writer friends. Yes, I do put the book marks to good use too. You won’t find turned down book pages in THIS household (shudders at the thought…!).

I was delighted to find out thanks to a writer friend that a picture framing shop in our area, which has been around for years, is now displaying books by local authors. Naturally I popped along to put a copy of mine (From Light to Dark and Back Again) in there and a copy of The Best of Cafelit 8 where I have two flash fiction pieces.

The cafe area where this display is situated is lovely and the people behind this are keen to bring together local writers, artists etc. The idea of art as an accompaniment to books is one I love. After all, book covers are often works of art in their own right, are they not?

Oh and finally I do love pens with a book logo on. I hope to get some more done when my second flash fiction collection, Tripping the Flash Fantastic, comes out.

But the best accompaniment of all to a book is a comfy chair and a cup of whatever drink you fancy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Numbers Into Writing Will Go

Image Credit:  As ever all images, unless otherwise stated, are from Pixabay.

Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

I look at the links between numbers and creative writing this week for CFT. There are more links than you might think. I’m not just talking about word counts either (though naturally that is a priority for my flash fiction writing).

The inspiration for the title comes from when I was taught to do division at school many, many moons ago. Three will go into six (twice), three will go into seven (twice with one left over) etc.

I also look at how numbers come into my online writing and I share some tips for managing word counts.

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My CFT post this week is Numbers into Writing Will Go, a title inspired by how I was taught division many moons (and then some!) ago. (That is 2 will go into 4 twice, 2 will go into 5 with 1 left over – anyone else remember that style of teaching?).

There are many links between numbers and creative writing funnily enough and my post will be looking at some of these. Link up on Friday.

Talking of numbers, it has been lovely to see more followers recently for my website. Welcome to you and thank you to those who have been following the site for some time.

I hope to continue to add to this site throughout the year and will post latest pages etc. One of my most recent additions was the Book Trailers page where all the book trailers for anthologies I’ve had work in, as well as the one From Light to Dark and Back Again, are included. (A big thank you to Chapeltown Books – they make some great trailers. Yes, I know, I’d be bound to say that, wouldn’t I, but go on. Check the page out!).

It was a relief NOT to get a soaking while out with the dog today. Plenty of tree debris around but at least things are calming down here a bit. Mind you, our local park will continue to be a mud pit for some time to come!

Back to unhelpful writing advice that I was talking about in my last round-up on Tuesday.

1. Of course you can edit on screen… ahem. You do miss things this way. Print your work out and edit on paper. (It can help to change the font or the character size to make your work seem different when looking at it on screen BUT I still recommend printing it out. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve picked something up this way that I missed on screen).

2. It won’t matter if you get a competition entry in JUST after the deadline. Oh yes it will. It’s called being late and a judge would have to turn down late works as it is not fair on those who did get their entries in on time. My top tip here is to take a week to ten days off the official deadline and make that your OWN one. It gives you a few days in hand for final tweaks should you need it and you’ll then still submit the piece in good time.

3. If I send my work (especially if it’s a book) with fancy ribbon on it, it will make it stand out. Yes, it will but for all the wrong reasons. I’ve heard many agents and publishers at writing conferences say basically how irritating this kind of thing is – all you need to do is follow their guidelines to the letter and leave it at that.

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

What do I enjoy writing the most in a flash fiction tale?

When I come up with a “killer line” whether it is a punchline to end a humorous story or a twist to conclude the tale. I love that feeling you get when you know what you’ve come up with is absolutely right for that story. Gives me a very good buzz.

I also love that moment when writing the first draft and you know you have got the idea and characters spot on. It’s then a question of fine tuning the story and cutting out what doesn’t add to the tale but you know at this point that you’ve got something to work with and your editing will improve the story.

I almost always find I’m about halfway to two-thirds of the way through a first draft when I know yes this is going to work or it will work if I end the story this way instead. It’s a relief to get to that point too!

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I think it helps to have a fascination with what makes people tick when it comes to character creation. This is especially true for flash fiction writing where I’m coming up with so many different characters for my stories (though I am beginning to link a few stories. This is where I either use the same character in another story or Character A in Story 1 is referred to by Character B in Story 2. Good fun to do and this is something I hope to do more of in future).

I do find the Scrivener character templates enomously helpful for outlining “my people”. They make me think about why I’m creating the character the way that I am and that will add “oomph” to my story. When reading, a character gels with me far more if I sense there is depth to them, even if I don’t discover those depths for a while. With flash, I need to give hints as to how deep my characters can be and then show a reader what they need to know to make those connections to hidden depths for themselves.

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Themes I love in my stories include:-

1. Poetic justice. I do love giving a character who deserves it what they’ve got coming. It’s fun!

2. An underdog winning out in the end. (This is a huge theme in fairytales of course and I’ve always loved that idea).

3. Alternative character stories (my Getting It Right gives the wicked stepmother’s viewpoint on the Snow White tale).

4. Types of character I love – feisty ones (especially older female characters who can still show those far younger than them a thing or two about how to tackle problems); magical ones (especially those who’ve discovered the downside to magic and are fighting back against that).

5. Historical themes I love (and these will turn up in Tripping the Flash Fantastic too).

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Fairytales With Bite – Going Back in Time

Fairytales are some of the oldest stories in literature, of course. This is another reason why I don’t understand why some dismiss them as “twee tales for kids”. If they read the original stories, they’d know fairytales are anything but twee and their intended audiences were definitely not children!

I associate fairytales with many happy memories of enjoying The Reader’s Digest Complete Fairytales (two volumes, both beautifully illustrated), which was a childhood present. I still have those books though their spines are taped up to give them extra support. I read those books a lot when I was younger!

When I read I want to escape to another world for a while and fairytales for me have always been a great outlet for that. A really good story will make you feel as if you’ve escaped time for a while.

I’ve always found it fascinating that there are countless versions of our classic fairytales in different cultures (Cinderella especially). The themes are timeless and will remain so. Fairytales often do reflect on aspects of human nature and they don’t always present a pretty picture either.

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This World and Others – Your Historical World

Whatever your setting, it has to have a past. It may not play a major role in the story you’re telling but there should be inferences to it somewhere in your tale. Your characters’ actions and reactions are based on what? Being attacked by an enemy? Well who is the enemy and what is the personal history here?

How is your world governed? Who runs it? Is there any opposition? How does it get on with other worlds around it? What happened in its past to influence how it is run now? What kind of ceremonies and rituals does it have and does your lead character go along with these or rebel against them?

History is important to us. It helps shape us. It should do for your characters too, even if you imply what that history is. Information is best drip fed into a story in any case but readers do put two and two together. I love doing that in books I read. I get a complete picture of the fictional world doing that and it makes the story stronger for me, always.

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Stories and Storms

Image Credit:  As ever, unless otherwise stated, the images are from Pixabay.

Facebook – General

My favourite adaptation of stories are:-

1. The Lord of the Ring films.

2. A Muppet Christmas Carol.

3. War of the Worlds – the album by Jeff Wayne. (We still have it. Richard Burton was the narrator/lead. He had a lovely voice).

I’d like to sneak in a mention for The Daughter of Time on radio but it’s not really an adaptation. It’s a wonderfully produced reading of a great book set against some evocative music (The Princes in the Tower by William Walton). It is repeated every so often on Radio 4 Extra. Well worth checking out if you like history, detective fiction, or, if you are like me, you love both!

Adaptations are just great ways to enjoy stories in other formats but the ones that work for me are the ones where you sense the people behind them really do love the originals.

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I don’t know about you but it already seems to me as if January has been here forever and we’re still under the halfway point! What is it about January that makes it seem to drag…?!

Making good progress on one story I’ve got in mind for a competition. Have got an idea for another competition but that needs fleshing out.

I have found it to be true the more you write the more ideas you generate (and reading well boosts that further). I will often have ideas for stories pop into my head while drafting my Chandler’s Ford Today posts (and other blogs) so I just make a note of these and come back to them later.

Yes, I do get ideas for non-fiction articles while drafting stories! I think it must be an unspoken rule of writing that, when you write more than one type of thing, you will get ideas for whatever it is at the time you are NOT working on! Again I just make a note of these. Can you have too many notebooks? Definitely not!

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Lady set a new world record for quickest and shortest evening walkies this evening, encouraged by her owners! She’s not fazed by storms, thankfully, but we can be! (It truly is a night for writing “It was a dark and stormy night”!😀). Hope all is as okay as possible wherever you are. If I knew where my hatches were, I’d be battening them down.

Still I guess it is the perfect night for settling in with writing to be getting on with and reading to enjoy later on.

My CFT post this week will be Numbers into Writing Will Go. Sometimes a post proves to be more fun to write than I anticipated and this was one such. I enjoy writing all my posts of course but I love it when one just “takes off” and this one has. Link up on Friday as usual.

The image of Lady I would caption as “There’s a dog in here somewhere!” (All other images from Pixabay).

 

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I’ve sometimes talked about writing tips I’ve found useful but what have you come across in the writing world which is anything but helpful?

1. No publishers will take work unless you have an agent. Not true. There are plenty of indie publishers who will! It is a question of seeking these out and following their submission guidelines to the letter. Yes, the very big publishers will want you to have an agent but always look out for submission windows. Some of the big publishers have imprints which have these windows so it is worth keeping an eye out for these too.

2. Blogging will open doors in the publishing world. Ahem. Blog because YOU want to. I like blogging as it is a great way to share thoughts and advice. I am not expecting it to pave my way to fame and fortune. That really is not the point of it. It is an outlet, a place where you can share publishing news etc. See it first and foremost as a useful tool for you. Also see it as a way of engaging with potential readers and potentially building up an audience. It is important to be consistent so people know when to expect your posts. Think about what audience you would like to reach and tailor your posts so these will be of interest to them.

3. Short stories have no market. A big no to that one. Yes, they do. Magazines are still the main one but there are indie publishers who cater for short story and flash fiction collections. There are online markets too (and these can be a great way to raise your profile). It is true you have to be a big name to have a big publisher bring out a book of your short stories. But there is always room for good quality anthologies out there. I know, much as I love the novel, I like to read story collections too and I refuse to believe I’m the only one!

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

I don’t always set out to write flash fiction. I know that sounds odd coming from me but occasionally I will set out to write a standard length short story (1500 words) and realise it has far more impact if I leave it at 150!

But that’s fine. It is the impact on the reader that matters the most and I try to have the needs of the reader in the back of my mind all the time. Yes, I write what I love to write but I also want to get it to an audience if I can so the happy situation here is to write something you love that is likely to have others liking it too.

Easier said than done I know but what I have found has helped enormously:-

1. Is knowing there’s no time limit on practising your craft and trying to hone it. I’m not in a race with other writers. I need to get to a point where my voice shines through in what I write at the pace that I can manage. If it takes two years rather than two months, so be it. I have found trying to submit work regularly means I’m getting that practice in regularly. It mounts up.

2. The really important thing is to enjoy your writing. If you enjoy it, someone else will too. From your viewpoint, if you enjoy it, you will be able to sustain your writing.

3. By thinking about what I want to read and why I have the preferences I do, I can use that to inspire the creation of my characters. It is nearly always characters that fascinate me enough to make me want to find out what happens to them. So I spend time in getting my characters as right as I can manage in terms of being able to see how they would appeal to readers. I find the Scrivener character templates really useful here but you can create your own. Think about what you need to know about your characters. Think about what you like about other writers’ characters. Story analysis is worth doing.

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What I love about flash fiction is being able to glimpse into a character’s life for a brief period and still being able to work out a great deal about them, when that is not part of the story. (It’s a sign of a great flash tale when you can do that. So much has to be implied but there should be plenty of implications for you to pick up on).

Flash fiction is like a mirror held up briefly. You get one glimpse and that’s it until you pick up the mirror again. Repeated readings of a flash tale should enable you to pick up on clues and inferences you missed on the first read. (A good book or film is always worth re-reading or re-watching for precisely that reason. You are focused on finding out what happens on the first reading/viewing.You pick up more on nuances on repeated reads/views).

 

There was an impressive flash of lightning tonight, while I was out with the dog, that lit up the whole sky. (Naturally these things would happen while I was out as opposed to being nicely cosy indoors but this is Rule 1 for the Murphy’s Law for Dog Owners. You WILL get a soaking every time the heavens even think of opening! Rule 2 is you can never have enough towels for drying the dog).

The ideal flash fiction story should also show an impressive amount of information even if at first read it doesn’t appear to do so. I usually find on subsequent re-readings, there’s more to a character than I first thought and I love that. I also love picking up on the little details that add “oomph” to the story which I may not have given enough attention to on the first read. (I’m too busy trying to find out what happened!).

But I have found it always pays to re-read stories, your own and others, as you will pick up something new. You can then look at what you could add to your own stories to give your own “oomph” factor.

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Am re-reading my Tripping the Flash Fantastic and looking forward to sharing more news on that as and when I can.

I am planning to change the title of this Facebook page later on when I know roughly when my second flash fiction collection will be out.

I have thought for a while that, given I focus on flash fiction advice and tips here, that a title based on that would be preferable anyway. Will let you know more on that later in the year. (It is lovely having plans like this though!).

 

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Goodreads Author Blog –Reading Preferences

My reading preferences depend on what mood I’m in. I will go through a spate of only wanting to read humorous prose, then go through another where I’m on a diet of crime stories, before moving on again.

I often find the spark for moving on to a different genre for a while will come from something I’ve read in a writing magazine. An interview with an author can lead me to checking their work out but also going on to read more in their genre once I’ve read their book.

One thing I will try and do better on during this year is posting reviews. I do appreciate receiving reviews myself. It’s remembering to post them that’s the issue and not just for me I suspect.

As for where I prefer to read, that’s easy enough – in bed at the end of the day. It’s the perfect way to relax before sleeping.

Do I ever dream about what I’ve read? Not usually though I occasionally get strange dreams where it’s clear something of what I’ve read has seeped in. The problem with those kind of dreams is they are disjointed and I’m not sorry I can’t remember them!

My overall reading preference is to keep on reading widely and well. I’d like to read more non-fiction this year too. Have you set any reading goals this year?

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Winter Trips

Image Credit:  Unless otherwise stated, all image are from Pixabay.

Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

I look back at some of the trips taken post Christmas. Lady, naturally, went everywhere.Very fond of pic I managed to get of her for this piece. I don’t get many of her looking thoughtful!

I also share a pic of an advert seen on one of these trips that could have come straight out of 1970s comedy Are You Being Served? See if you can spot it.

And there’s a literary connection too. I walked part of the Harry Potter bridge on one of these trips. No sign of any eager looking students looking for a certain railway platform here though!

It was great fun going out and about with the family (including the four legged member of same) during the post Christmas/early New Year period.

Apologies for the first few seconds of my video below. It is far too easy to have the camera aiming at your foot instead of at the steam train!

This is from the Watercress Line, a well known tourist attraction. Terry Pratchett spent time here researching for his novel, Raising Steam, which brings the locomotive to the Discworld.

But Lady, while having a ball, is not sorry to be getting back to her usual routine, including having plays in the local park with her best pal who happens to be a Rhodesian Ridgeback. (Before you ask, you stand well back when the two of them play, otherwise you will be pistol whipped by one of their madly wagging tails!).

It is also back to my writing properly this week and I admit I did find the first couple of days tough going. News of Tripping the Flash Fantastic coming out of course boosted morale no end but it’s now onwards and upwards.

But I’ve found it useful in the past to be gentle on myself for the first couple of days after a break and gradually pick up my writing pace again. I then find I can keep that pace going until the next break comes along.

I’ve learned to accept that I don’t have to work at breakneck speed all the time (and indeed it is better that I don’t even try that. Writing has peaks and troughs and you kind of need to look after yourself to be able to cope with all that).

Oh and yes I am looking forward to trips out in the spring, the summer, the autumn etc etc.

All images for CFT this week were taken by Allison Symes. Captions over on CFT.

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Apparently today (9th January) is National Apricot Day (US) and National Static Electricity Day. Now there’s a combination of ideas I never expected to see! I also know which of the two I prefer. Bit of a challenge to get them into a story though…

Am fleshing out ideas for a couple of competitions I want to have a go at and working on an article idea too. I do like mixing up writing (and indeed reading) fiction and non-fiction.

I often find ideas for stories spark from non-fiction I’ve read. Mind you, if I get ideas for a weird story about a giant apricot powered by static electricity, I will think twice about writing those down. (The giant peach has been done by the marvellous Roald Dahl!).

I love quirky fiction but I have my limits!

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When choosing a book what is THE hook that draws you into buying it?

For me, the book cover attracts but it is the blurb that sells it to me.

Why? If the blurb has intrigued me enough to then want to have a look at the opening paragraph or so, then the purchase is as good as made.

It is a very rare occurrence when what I read on the opening page doesn’t grip me. I can’t remember the last time I felt let down by the promise of a blurb but the opening to the book let it down. And that’s a good thing. It’s also a challenge of course!

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

I was out and about a fair bit during the post Christmas/early New Year period and had a great time, but one thing I forgot to do this time was jot down a few notes via Evernote and my phone. This is something I intend to rectify next time I’m away on any trip where I’m not driving. Notes on what exactly, you ask?

Well, what do trips out give you a chance to do? See new surroundings. See new people. Have brief conversations with people travelling with you. See things that amuse you. Any of those can provide sparks for story ideas. Those are always worth jotting down.

And don’t underestimate the importance of having some down time every now and again to recharge your batteries (including your imaginative ones).❤️❤️

PS Lady, on one of our days out, is wondering where we’re off to next. (Mind you, right now as I type this at 9.25 pm, she’s off in the Land of Nod on the sofa!).

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When I’m thinking of a story, the first thing I consider is the voice of my character. Are they a feisty soul? Are they humorous? What bugs them? What happens when they are forced to deal with said bugs?

Just asking and answering a few questions like that gives you a good outline with which to get started on your story. For me story is all about the characters. I’ve got to get behind them (and sometimes it IS to boo them – we all love a “good” villain!).

Another tip is to think of what would be your character’s worse nightmare and then make them face it. (Nobody said a writer has to be nice to their characters. It’s just as well really. Crime writers would have a tough time of it if they HAD to be nice to their characters. Nobody would be bumped off in prose ever again! It’s also hard to imagine a “nice” Dracula!).

 

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Story time, I think! Hope you enjoy this one.

RETIREMENT

When a witch decides to hang up her broom, it is best she does so quietly and disappears. Else she will find she is disappeared and her broom stolen. And nobody was doing that to Griselda. She knew the horror stories.

And she’d sent those two brats packing with as much sweet stuff as the greedy pair could handle. There was no way Griselda was being shoved in an oven for anyone. Besides it would help her good friend, Labelle the Tooth Fairy, out. Her rounds had been quiet of late. Hansel and Gretel would soon put that right if Griselda was any judge. And if she wasn’t anymore, maybe it was time to go after all.

But she would exit in a way she thought fitting. Reports of a dragon sighting were all over the news and as Griselda checked her monster slaying kit (every good witch had one), she realised, for the first time ever, she had nothing to lose.

Beat the beast and she’d still be useful and prove those who scoffed at her age wrong. Lose and she’d die quickly and be remembered for a heroic but tragic failure.

She slipped on her cloak and pointed hat. It was time to go.

Ends
Allison Symes – 8th January 2020

(Definitely time for a story mid-way through the first full week back after Christmas, I feel!)

 

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Fairytales With Bite – What Do Fairytales Mean to You?

Now there’s a leading question if ever there was one but to be fair I’ll have a crack at answering it myself. This is by no means a comprehensive list!

Fairytales are to me:-

1.  Something I’ll always be grateful for as they introduced me to the world of books and stories.

2. They’re entertaining (and yes I like the Disney adaptations by and large too but you can’t beat reading the stories themselves).

3.  You know in the fairytale world right will be done in the end. (The one exception I’d say was The Little Mermaid as told by Hans Christen Andersen as opposed to the one produced by Disney, though I understand why they did that. Even there that particular story opened my eyes to the idea there wasn’t always a happy ever after – and his The Little Match Girl took that idea further).

4. Bring back very good childhood memories and I still have my two classic fairytale volumes.

5. Something I’ll be grateful for as looking at stories from alternative viewpoints led to my first published story, A Helping Hand, in Alternative Renditions (Bridge House Publishing).

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This World and Others – Settings

What settings are important for you as you create your stories? I admit I don’t think about them that much, though they can become characters in their own right to an extent. Think about Mordor in The Lord of the Rings. I swear you could almost feel the evil emanating from it every time I read about it/saw it in the film.

I always focus on character creation as you know and I find the setting from there. I think about who my character is, what their traits are, what their situation is and from there I can work out how and where they live and so on. I like my characters to run the story rather than the setting though I always make settings appropriate to my people (and other beings!).

 

 

 

New Year, New Book

Image Credit:  Unless otherwise stated, all images are from Pixabay.

Happy New Year to you all!

PUBLICATION NEWS

As you can imagine, I am thrilled to bits to start the New Year in such a positive way and look forward to bringing more news about Tripping the Flash Fantastic in due course.

Advance Notice

I am planning to change the name of my book page on Facebook from From Light to Dark and Back Again to something more flash fiction related nearer to when I know Tripping the Flash Fantastic will be out. That way the page can cover both books and I’ve been using this page mainly to discuss flash fiction anyway.

Facebook – General

One goal I have set myself this year is to try to prepare more posts in advance and schedule them to free up writing time for other things. I have done this before, mainly ahead of going on holiday, and it works well but I need to do this more often. (If I can do the same with Twitter as well, even better!).

I’m currently reading 500 Words You Should Know, which was a lovely gift from a friend who thinks I probably know most of them already. Hmm…. we’ll see. Incidentally I did pick up the word “soporific” from Beatrix Potter many, many moons ago. Reading is by far the most enjoyable way of improving your vocabulary.

I’m relishing being back in the writing saddle again properly now having submitted two short stories already and working away on several new flash fiction tales. What I love about writing is that buzz of creativity never loses its attraction! I always feel so much better within myself for having created something with words.

Loved Part 2 of Spyfall from Doctor Who tonight as well and that’s all I’m saying on this for now, given I know people who haven’t seen it yet! Very much looking forward to the rest of the series after such a cracking start.

Hope to be able to share publication news again soon (so I think I’m off to a cracking start for 2020 too, not that I mind this, far from it!). Again will share news as and when I can but really looking forward to being able to do so soon.

One of the writing prompts in my new diary is to write a New Year’s Eve party from the viewpoint of three different characters. Not sure I’ll do this one mainly because I simply don’t do New Year’s Eve parties so feel I wouldn’t write convincingly on same! I would rather stay at home and curl up with a good book (and I would have done so in my younger years too. Yes, I know. Boring it may seem to be but give me a good book and I can assure you the hours whizz by very nicely reading and that suits me just fine!).

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Am thrilled to announce my second flash fiction collection, Tripping the Flash Fantastic, will be published by Chapeltown Books later this year. Will share more details as and when I have them.

What I love is that the buzz of being published never diminishes whether it is having a story online, or in an anthology, or you have another book out.

I only wish I could bottle the buzzy feeling for those times when writing feels like really hard work and you have to push yourself harder to keep going!

 

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Many thanks, everyone, on your wonderful support at my publication news yesterday. It is very much appreciated. I look forward to sharing more news as and when I have it.

I am also delighted for friends who I know will also be published later this year – well done, all. I look forward to seeing your books come out too. I never mind adding to my To Be Read pile!

Now back to the nitty-gritty! The writing life can be compared to a rollercoaster. It really is full of ups and downs. Stamina is useful!

Incidentally, I’ve mentioned elsewhere that you have to play the long game in writing. You can’t know that what you write will be accepted or successful. You can only give it your best shot (and be prepared to edit, rewrite, edit etc). So writing for the joy of writing is vital in my view. It is what helps keep you going when nothing seems to be happening.

Seeds can take a long time to germinate. That’s even more true of the writing seeds you send out there. But it is lovely when the first shoots and then the blooms appear! And it is important to cherish the moment, especially as you can’t know when the next one will be. It is equally important to then move on and keep writing and sending work out.

So I’d better get on then!

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Do you find when writing stories in batches one mood tends to dominate? In the last couple of days, I’ve written sinster and sadder but moving stories. I am hoping to lighten up a bit in the next few days!

What matters is being true to the characters you create. If their story is a sad one, so be it, but the character has to engage with a reader so they will want to find out what happens to said character.

I am very fond of stories where characters find a way of dealing with issues troubling them. I always thought it realistic that Frodo never did fully recover from all he went through in The Lord of the Rings. A happy ever after ending still has to be appropriate for the character. It wasn’t for Frodo, it was for Sam.

 

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I hope to be able to share exciting publication news soon so, as they say, watch this space.

Meanwhile, I’m happily drafting plenty of flash fiction pieces I will submit as and when over the next couple of months or so. I am also currently sorting out my running order for a further flash fiction collection I hope to submit at some point though I know there will be further editing to do on that once I’ve done this. I find sorting out the running order helps clear my thoughts and makes editing easier to do. Note I said easier, not easy!

Running order matters to a collection. It can make a huge difference as to how well the stories flow into each other. Also when you specifically want a contrast in moods (as I did with FLTDBA) you want that contrast to stand out. I grouped my stories in FLTDBA specifically by mood and that worked well. I suspect for what I am currently working on, I will probably organise it by type of flash fiction (e.g. group the historical ones together, group the funny ones together etc).

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As mentioned on my author page, I am delighted to say Tripping the Flash Fantastic, my second flash fiction collection, will be published by Chapeltown Books later this year. Will share further details as and when possible but naturally am thrilled about this. (I had the great joy of sending the signed contract back today. That’s a good job to have!).

Meanwhile there will be more flash stories from me on Cafelit later this month and in March. Naturally I hope to get some more on there throughout the year too.

You have to accept, I think, that you are playing the long game when you are writing and seeking publication. There are no guaranteed results for anyone. You do have to work hard on your writing and be prepared to edit and edit again etc but the joy of publication is truly a wonderful thing and never diminishes!

 

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Many thanks for all the kind messages here and on Twitter re my publication news yesterday. All very much appreciated.

Whatever your writing projects are, I hope they are going well and that you are having the proverbial ball writing them.

Writing should be enjoyable. Yes, it can be a hard slog but there should be the joy of being creative in there too. I love it when I hit that moment when I know my characters have come to life for me. (If they do so for me, they will do for other readers).

There is something fantastic about storytelling, whether you read stories, write them, or do both. It is certainly worth celebrating!

Goodreads Author Blog – Happy New (Reading) Year!

Happy New Year!

I’m looking forward to discovering authors new to me this year and getting plenty of reading done. The TBR pile, unlike my ironing pile, is one where I’m not that sorry if it stays pretty much at its high level!

I’d like to read more non-fiction this year too and expand my range of subjects.

The biggest problem, of course, is time. I always mean to read more over the Christmas break and, yes, I did catch up a bit. However, I’m usually too tired to read for long so I never get as much done as I was hoping for.

Am trying to read more (particularly magazines) at lunch time and am enjoying that.

I’d also like to get back to more humorous reading and suspect it will soon be time to resume the works of P.G. Wodehouse and Terry Pratchett, both of whose books bring me much joy.

Whatever your reading plans are this year, I hope you have a fabulous time with them. I intend to!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beginnings

Image Credit:  As ever, all images are from Pixabay unless otherwise stated. Think I’ve finally nailed the “have an appropriate title for the start of a New Year for your blog post” game!

Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

Well, Beginnings is an appropriate topic for the start of 2020! I look at why beginnings are so important for any creative art (especially storytelling), share some of my favourite story openings, and discuss New Year’s Resolutions. Talking of which, Happy New Year!

As my CFT post on Beginnings mentions, I see the end of the old year as the time to take stock of where I am writing wise, so I am raring to go again as soon as possible writing wise after the festive season.

My initial goals are to continue to try to get more work in more anthologies and to develop professionally in other ways too. I hope to share more of the latter as I go throughout the year.

I am aiming to submit two of my big projects by the spring and see how I go with those. I’d like to finish another project by the end of the summer if possible and see if I can be submitting that by the autumn.

I’m also hoping to pitch more non-fiction articles too.

I don’t set specific dates ever because life can and does get in the way and no writer should feel bad about that. My deadlines are only set for my CFT posts and competitions and I work to those fine but it is lovely having longer projects to work on too. I like a good writing mix and am loving all of the writing I do. I hope that comes through in what I write.

So onwards then. Happy New Year and happy writing and reading!

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Sent off my two short stories yesterday so that gets 2020 off to a promising beginning! I’m also working on some writing prompt exercises and those are proving to be good fun. Hope to resume my major projects over the weekend.

Appropriately my CFT post this week is on Beginnings. As well as sharing what I think of New Year Resolutions, I discuss why beginnings are so important to get right for any creative piece of work. I also share a couple of my favourite beginnings. Link up tomorrow as normal. I am SO grateful to CFT, especially this week. It means I know tomorrow is Friday!! (On weeks like this one, having a good writing routine helps so much!).

(Oh and the pictures of fireworks below, courtesy of Pixabay, are the only place I like to see such things. Lady agrees with me on that one).

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Wow! Absolutely adored Doctor Who tonight (shown in the UK on New Year’s Day) and can’t wait to see Part 2. Cracking storyline and am intrigued to see how it pans out.

Getting off to a reasonably good start as I have two stories I’m planning to submit this week. I then have two competitions to prepare material for plus, at the weekend, I hope to get back to my longer projects.

Have been out and about with other half and Lady in the New Forest today. I hope all the exercise will prove to be refreshing to the imagination as well as much needed after the Christmas festivities! (Lady had a great time at the festivities and on the walks!).

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Plans for 2020 include submitting to even more competitions (flash fiction and short stories). I am pleased I did enter more last year though nothing happened with the tales themselves. Still, that is material I can edit and resubmit elsewhere.

Little is wasted in writing especially if you can take a step back, analyse your story and be prepared to change things to make the tale stronger if it is needed.

Bear in mind sometimes a story not “making it” can be because the competition organisers/publishers have already chosen a story using the same theme you have. Sometimes, even when they want the same theme, someone else’s tale has just got a bit more bite to it which has clinched things for them. I’ve found it helps to see this as a challenge to me to “up my game”. That aspect of writing keeps me on my toes and I think that’s a good thing. Never take anything for granted!

Look at work that hasn’t been accepted in the cold light of day. Still can’t see any changes needed? Try submitting the story elsewhere. If you can get feedback on it, even better. And good luck with your writing plans for 2020.

I’m having fun at the moment coming up with linked stories based on the same character but set at different word lengths. Worth a go! (And a big thanks to #DawnKentishKnox for the tip). Will definitely be trying this again.

One huge advantage to writing prompts (which is where the above idea comes from) is they make you mix up how you approach writing a story. That keeps you on your toes, I’ve found it keeps writing interesting for me (and hopefully that comes through to a reader), and differing approaches can encourage you to try different styles. Well, you never know what you like here until you try it! I DO know you don’t want to get stuck in any kind of rut with your writing,

See Prompts by #GillJames on Amazon. Highly recommend.

 

Prompts 2020 by [James, Gill] Image by Gill James

Lovely afternoon walking in the New Forest with other half and Lady (New Year’s Day). Was eerie the way the mist suddenly appeared though. Of course the problem with having any kind of imagination at all is being able to visualise what kind of monsters that mist could be hiding!! Fortunately, only the New Forest ponies were company for us (and Lady looks at them curiously. We think she thinks they’re some kind of very big dog!).

Hope to get back to flash fiction writing shortly (though my immediate plans are to submit a couple of standard length short stories). I must admit the break has been great but the lovely thing about writing is I always look forward to getting back to it again.

Onwards and upwards! Or maybe for flash fiction that really should be onwards and downwards (with the word count!😀).