All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated.
Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.
And the great thing with books and stories? They can take you anywhere in space and time. You just need to enjoy the journey!
Facebook – General and Publication News
Delighted to receive the list of all who will be in The Best of Cafelit 10 later this year. It is a big list too! Always lovely to spot my name in said list!
Congratulations everyone and many thanks to all who voted for my two stories, Breaking Out and Taking Time Out of the Day Job, to be included. It will be lovely to be “between the CafeLit covers” with friends, old and new. And don’t forget you can always check out the previous CafeLit anthologies. They are a wonderful mixture of styles and moods with something to suit most.
And if you want to know more, I can do no better than take you to my Amazon Author Central page at http://author.to/AllisonSymesAuthorCent
I’ve had the joy of being published in several of these (the most recent being CafeLit 8 and 9). And they make perfect books for dipping into if you are between “big”reads and don’t know which will be your next one.
Give the short form collections a try!
Am not sorry to see the back of January. Goes on for far too long but in positive news, Lady is going from strength to strength (see poorly paw story further down!), and my snowdrops are in bloom in the garden. That’s a positive for any time but especially for a Monday I think.
Many thanks for the wonderful responses to the Launches in Lockdown series so far on Chandler’s Ford Today. I’ll be sharing invaluable insights from two fab writers from the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School this Friday. What my guests and I all hope is that this series will be encouraging and helpful to those writers who are having their launches this year, when none of us can be certain about what will happen and when in terms of lockdown restrictions easing etc.
One thing I have learned as a writer of many years standing (and of course sitting!) is a little encouragement and good tips do go a very long way. I hope they do for you too.
Many thanks for your best wishes over Lady’s poorly paw. Am glad to report she is feeling much better and has cheered up considerably. The claw will grow back so the next time she might experience a little discomfort will be when that comes through again probably in a couple of weeks or so. (A bit like us with teeth really!).
Having said that, Lady is a young, highly active dog, and this is the kind of accident that does happen to dogs like her though Lady would be glad (as would I) if it didn’t happen again! The other good thing though is young active dogs do recover quickly which is a mercy.
Writing wise, I’m setting up interviews at the moment where I’m on the other side of the interview desk. Am looking forward to sharing more details as and when I can.
I’m also working on something else which will end up on my website right here (!) at https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com and again I look forward to sharing more details when I can. It’s been something I’ve been toying with doing for a while and something has cropped up that has told me, yes go for it, so I am!
The writing life is often like this. You make some developments, then you need to build on that so you end up doing more! But this is a good thing. The writing life is not meant to be static. What is lovely is looking back every so often and seeing where you’ve come from while looking ahead to further developments and seeing where they take you. And, as ever, the best thing is to enjoy the journey.
Hope your Saturday has gone well. Now in dog news, I have to report Lady is recovering from a poorly paw.
Apologies in advance if you’re eating but she managed to rip a claw. Vet removed claw and sealed the wound. Claw will grow back. Not a great day yesterday, Lady understandably feeling sorry for herself, but much better today and is coming on leaps and bounds.
I just need to stop her doing literal leaps and bounds for a couple of days to make sure all is as well as it should be. Huge thanks to Lady’s bestie, the Rhodesian Ridgeback, and her human mum for the fuss and cuddles you gave Lady yesterday. It was the only bright spot in her day yesterday!
Okay that’s the kind of drama no dog owner ever wants to have (but inevitably gets every so often. It’s why you insure your pets!). How about the kind of drama writers want?
I must admit I don’t like melodrama. Never have. It’s always struck me as being over the top but what I do want to see is actions and reactions that arise naturally from the characters and the situation they’re in. (So no aliens landing at Mansfield Park for me. I don’t really get the mash-ups. I understand either genre – sci-fi and classic here – but not the pair together).
I want to be able to feel that yes, this character could do this because they have shown they can be silly so to be silly again is not unexpected and, as a result, the situation they find themselves in has the potential to become very silly indeed. But that all ties up and I guess that is the point.
Character = situation = one develops from the other. For me, the character always comes first. Get them set up correctly and the situations will arise naturally. Even in fantasy with magical elements, this applies. You’ve established your character is in a magical world and what abilities they have or lack so the situation will arise from that.
And the situation will always involve conflict. If a character wants more powers than they’ve got, what will they do to achieve more? Do it the proper way and learn their skills or try to cheat their way to the top? But get your character set up and you can take them where you want to and more importantly take your readers with you.
Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again
Delighted to say two of my flash tales, Breaking Out and Taking Time Out of The Day Job, will be in The Best of CafeLit 10 later this year. Nice start to February! Don’t forget to check out the Cafelit site for a wide range of stories, short and long, at https://www.cafelitmagazine.uk/
You can find my page at https://www.cafelitmagazine.uk/search/label/Allison%20Symes
And of course it is CafeLit I have to thank for introducing me to the wonders of flash fiction so I am definitely going to plug them whenever I can!
Hope you enjoy my new story video – The Dragon and The Clock. These shorts are great fun to do and a marvellous way to share one and two line flash tales!
I’ve always loved writing and reading dialogue and hearing characters speak. (Also in reading between the lines of what they’re saying so you get a sense of the real character behind what they say).
When I’m reviewing stories, I try to listen to my characters, that the words I’ve given them I can “hear” them saying, and nothing is inappropriate or out of kilter for them. I often speak work out loud, especially dialogue (and the great thing with flash is this is easy to do and doesn’t take long!).
Speaking dialogue out loud is the sure way to pick up any thing that does not ring true or if what looks right written down is tricky to say out loud. If you find it tricky, so will your readers. I try to stick to the Keep It Simple principle for writing (and especially for dialogue). It works.
Now with my flash fiction, I often have stories with only one character. So yes, I do get them to speak out loud. You can, of course, get them to speak into a phone. But much of what applies to dialogue writing can also apply to writing internal thoughts. After all that is the character talking to themselves so again the style of thought, what they’re coming up with, should be apt for the character you’ve created.
I approach writing a flash fiction story in several ways.
- I have a prepared character I want to put in a situation and see what happens.
- I have a theme I want to write to (or one I’m having a crack at for a competition, say) so I know what I’m writing about from the get go. It’s a question of picking the right character for this kind of story.
- I brain storm ideas for titles, pick a few I like and then work out what kind of characters would work for these and then go with the ones I like the most.
- I know the ending to a story (and this is almost always a twist tale) and it is just a question of working out how the story would get to that point. That almost inevitably leads to the kind of character who would end up in a twist like that.
Goodreads Author Blog – What I Like to See In A Book
Hmm… this is a good statement, isn’t it? I could give chapter and verse here, appropriately, but for me one thing only is key to whether a book is good or not.
It’s all down to the characters. Do they grip me? Do they get me rooting for them to succeed or fail? (Funnily enough, either is fine, and I do love to see a “good” villain get their comeuppance eventually. I blame my love of fairytales for that one).
If a character does not grip me, I switch off. I love Pride and Prejudice. Elizabeth Bennett is a fabulous character and ahead of her time. She says what she thinks and I love that.
Conversely, I am not gripped by Mansfield Park as I think the heroine there is dull and, to my mind, not worth of being a heroine. Her happy ending does depend on the misfortunes of others, in my view, but Elizabeth had to work for hers and it was by no means certain it would happen until close to the end.
I wanted to see Miss Price do so much more to “earn” her happy ending but there you go. (I guess it’s a kind of warning to all writers that even the best can come up with characters who don’t engage with their readers and I know there are those who love Mansfield Park but it has never done anything for me because of this).
liked Allison Symes's blog post: What I Like to See In A Book https://t.co/Zs4mo1bcle via @goodreads I discuss what makes a book good or not for me and why I love the heroine of Pride and Prejudice but not the one from Mansfield Park. pic.twitter.com/UvJBiRB6b8— Allison Symes (@AllisonSymes1) January 30, 2021
Hope you enjoy my new story video – The Dragon and The Clock. These shorts are great fun to do and a marvellous way to share one and two line flash tales! See https://t.co/kuelTBOHEE— Allison Symes (@AllisonSymes1) February 1, 2021