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!).