Stories, Editing, and a Press Appearance

Image Credit:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Some images created in Book Brush using Pixabay photos.
Many thanks to Sarah Archibald for images related to the recent Brechin/Angus Book Festival. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes.
Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing (though the image of CafeLit 10 was my usual keen author opening their box of books shot!). It has been a strange week. I started the week in Dundee, after a lovely time at the Festival, and am now back at my desk, getting down to the nitty-gritty of the writing life (and loving that). Am very appreciative of the joy creative writing has given and continues to give me.

Creative writing is a joy

Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

Am so pleased to welcome back Lynn Clement to Chandler’s Ford Today. This week we talk about editing. I had the pleasure of editing Lynn’s flash fiction collection, The City of Stories, recently. Lynn shares how she found the vigorous three stage editing process Chapeltown Books has and what her approach to editing is amongst other topics. Hope you enjoy the post and pick up useful thoughts here. I hope it is some consolation that editing is hard work but oh so worth it when you know your book is sharper, tighter, flows better than it did before. It is worth it, folks, honest!

And what is really nice is I am due to meet up with Lynn again in person at the Bridge House Publishing celebration event on 4th December. Looking forward to catching up with her and other Bridge House/CafeLit/Chapeltown Books authors then (and many of us write for all three!).

Introducing Lynn Clement – Part 2 – The Editing

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Pleased to share the following link kindly forwarded to be by Sarah Archibald – a lovely write up and pic of the authors taking part in the Brechin/Angus Book Festival. Must admit the last time I sat in a group like this, I was at school! (Also first time I’ve been in a newspaper so feeling a bit chuffed I must say).

Success for Brechin/Angus Book Festival event

Screenshot 2021-11-26 at 20-29-20 Success for Brechin Angus Book Festival event Angus World

Hope you’ve had a good day. I’m in that “back to the office after a break” kind of routine and am trying to catch up with paperwork.

Had a lovely time on the Association of Christian Writers Flash Group meeting tonight. Groups like this are useful for sharing tips and advice, reading stories out and receiving feedback. We’re not meeting next month (I’ll leave you to guess why!) but look forward to meeting up with everyone again on Zoom in January. And that will be with us before we know it. (Oh and I did come up with an idea I hope to write up soon as a result of our discussions tonight – I always welcome things like that!).

PS. Since writing the above post, I did write up the idea I came up with during this meeting and have since submitted the story. Will let you know if it goes anywhere.

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Am pleased I managed to get a story in for Friday Flash Fiction this week after all. Hope you enjoy my latest here (and many thanks for the comments in on it already). What could possibly go wrong when a witch decides to have a house rebuild? Find out here!

Screenshot 2021-11-26 at 19-21-09 Moving Along, by Allison Symes


Firstly, had a lovely Zoom session last night with the Association of Christian Writers Flash Fiction Group. Plenty of feedback and tips shared. (Another advantage here is there is a lot of great advice for writing flash that can be taken to help you improve standard length short stories too).

Secondly, I’m pleased to share a link to flash fiction on Mom’s Favorite Reads. Don’t forget the magazine is free, has a wide range of articles and stories, and I will be setting the theme for the next edition soon. Always fun to do that!

Last but not least, I will be talking again with Lynn Clement on Chandler’s Ford Today tomorrow. I recently edited Lynn’s flash fiction collection, The City of Stories, for Chapeltown Books. Tomorrow Lynn and I will discuss the editing process. See link above.

 

Screenshot 2021-11-26 at 20-38-51 Flash Fiction


Pleased to share my latest YouTube story. Hope you enjoy A Turn Up For the Books. What happens when healthy eating impacts on the fairy world? Find out here!

Fairytales With Bite – Magical Livelihoods

What kind of jobs could exist in the magical world other than the obvious ones of wizard, fairy godmother etc? How about these?

Ingredient Fetcher – always out in the fresh air. Works for witches, wizards and those fairy godmothers who like to use wildlife in their spells. Must love amphibians (as eye of newt comes up a lot in this job).

Spell Book Translator – If you’ve ever read Old English, you will know how difficult it is to read (especially over a longer document). Old spell books are much the same. They need translating into more modern magical speech. And these things don’t happen as if by magic, oh no. Someone has to do them.

Food Preparer – Definitely not a cook. This job means taking the shiniest red apples the ingredient fetcher has brought you and selecting the very best to go through to the boss, who no doubt has something to add to them herself. And you dare not bring her anything less than the best. The boss won’t sack you if you do. She’ll just do a trial run of her special ingredient on the sub-standard apple you’ve brought her and make you eat it. Get it right though and there will be rewards (including getting to live for another day).

Cleaners – Always needed regardless of what world you live in. Use of magic to do the job strictly banned since that spot of bother with the Sorcerer’s Apprentice.

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This World and Others – Employment Issues

What kind of employment opportunities exist in your fictional world? Do jobs match what we have here or are there work placements which could only exist in your fiction? Can anyone apply for jobs based on merit or is there a strict system where only those from a certain type of background can apply for certain types of work?

How does your society pay for goods and services? How are these things produced? Is magic allowed to be used? Is there such as thing as a working week? Are there employment laws protecting the workers? Can people better themselves through working hard etc?

What does your fictional world need in terms of employment and are those needs met? Does it need to import labour and/or services and, if so, where does it get these things from?

What does your lead character do for a living? How does that affect their outlook? And when they’re called up on to go on the adventure you’re sending them on, how easy do they find it to give up all they have known? After all, secure employment is a rarity wherever you go!

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Book Festivals, Inventing Characters, and Going Home

Image Credit:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes.
Many thanks also to Sarah Archibald for the Brechin/Angus Book Festival materials – it is a joy to share them!

Facebook – General

Absolutely shattered last night after getting home from Scotland but it was an enjoyable trip and I have to say I liked LNER. I’ve not travelled with them before but liked the trains. Also impressed with very high standard of cleanliness – and a charging point at every seat. Great idea.

Am getting back to my usual writing routine (though whether I’ll get around to a YouTube video and/or submission to Friday Flash Fiction this week remains to be seen). I will be getting my author newsletter for December ready soon though (and you can sign up for that at my website landing page at https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com).

Looking forward to the next event – the Bridge House Publishing celebration on 4th December. Will be so good to meet up with friends again there too and catch up with what everyone has been doing.

Heading home from the Brechin/Angus Book Festival and enjoying great scenic views on the way as I travel through Scotland and a fair bit of England too. Had a lovely time.

It was great catching up with friends from the Association of Christian Writers and meeting new people. Some of us have a regular meet up on Zoom. This was the “live” version in many ways!

A huge thanks to Wendy H. Jones for being a fab hostess and organising all that needed to be organised, and to Sarah Archibald and her team behind the festival.

Looking forward now to being back at home with my family and Lady. Reports tell me she has been checking my side of the bed every night to see if I’d somehow sneaked back home while she was not looking! Not a chance even if I did have access to a portal etc. The postie only has to put one foot in the drive before she tells us about it!

In other news as they say, I look forward to sharing Part 2 of a great interview with Lynn Clement, whose The City of Stories was recently published by Chapeltown Books. This week we discuss the editing process – Chapeltown has a vigorous three stage plan for this. I had the privilege of editing Lynn on this and I look forward to sharing the link on Friday.

Had a lovely workshop session at the second day of the Brechin/Angus Book Festival. It was great to share ways into flash fiction and read some of my stories. That does two things – it shows what flash is and hopefully entertains the listener.

Later I gave a talk on The Ups and Downs of Becoming An Author where I talked about my circular route into becoming a published author. All good fun and many thanks to those who came to listen.

It has been particularly nice to meet new people and get chatting about books and stories.

Lovely to be at the Brechin/Angus Book Festival. It’s wonderful to see lots of lovely books (and equally lovely authors) out and about again.  

There is a great contingent from the Association of Christian Writers here. So shout-out to Wendy H Jones, Maressa Mortimer, Ruth Leigh, Heather Flack, Tony Collins, and Sheila Robinson (writes as S.C. Skillman).

Also lovely to meet in person those I’ve only met on Facebook and/or Zoom

Have also taken part in my first professional photo shoot with the other authors. All of us held up our latest book with pride! Great fun. Will appear in The Angus Courier next Thursday.

Book stall all set up to go at The Northern Hotel, Brechin

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

I’ve mentioned before my love of using random generators to help trigger different story ideas. I’m convinced these work because they force you to think outside of your usual creative box. You are being set a prompt to work to after all by something that has not come from you.

But don’t forget you can get even more from these by changing the parameters for these things. For example, for the random word ones, I often choose to generate just two words but there’s no reason why I can’t pick far more than that.

I’ve found using two will often give me a title and, yes, it can be easier to fit two words into a story rather than ten or so but that’s precisely the reason to change the parameters! It encourages you to think about how you can get these ten words into the story so it makes sense, adds to the character or the plot in some way etc.

Stretching yourself like that is a good thing. I’ve come up with more stories as a result of experimenting with parameters like this.

It was a pleasure to read from my flash collections at my workshop and tallk over the weekend at the Brechin/Angus Book Festival.

Doing this shows what flash is and the impact it can have so effectively. I just tailor which stories I read to suit the audience. I also like a balance of tales to make people smile and others that trigger other responses (such as a twist ending for a crime story, say).

I don’t read the same tales at every event (though I do have my own favourites I will often use).

Last day of the Brechin/Angus Book Festival and it has been fabulous to talk about flash fiction, sharing what I love about the form. As I mentioned yesterday, it is the continual inventing of characters I find the most fun. It is also the most challenging but it keeps me on my toes!

Writing flash fiction has meant I get to do what I love most – invent characters. Even more fun can be had because those characters don’t have to be human.

Why do I love inventing characters? Simply because they are fun to “play with”.Characters give me ways in which to explore motivations and what anyone might do in any given situation when under duress or where normal expectations don’t exist or are challenged.

How a character reacts is something that fascinates me. And with flash I get to do this over and over again.The joy of my two collections – From Light to Dark and Back Again and Tripping the Flash Fantastic – is I can reflect a number of scenarios and settings and that is also fun.

Goodreads Author Blog – Advertising Books

The best advertising for books is word-of-mouth. If someone I know tells me about a book I am more likely to sit up and take notice.

But getting awareness of available books out there is difficult.No author wants to come across as too pushy (instant turn-off for potential readers). But you equally can’t be too shy and retiring.

What I have found helps me is having a brief spiel prepared covering what flash fiction is (my main genre), why I love writing it, and then I go into my two collections. Often I’ll read from them too.

And readers do need to know the stories are out there. This is where book festivals and fairs can play a major role. So if you can support them, do. You will get to see potential good reads new to you and you support books in general as well as the authors.

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The Joys of Flash Fiction and Heading North

Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes.
Many thanks to Lynn Clement for her author photo and book cover pic for my interview with her on Chandler’s Ford Today. Many thanks also to Sarah Archibald for the Brechin/Angus Book Festival materials – it is a joy to share them!
Just one of the events going on this weekend

Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

I’m delighted to welcome fellow flash fiction writer, Lynn Clement, to Chandler’s Ford Today. Her debut flash collection, The City of Stories, was recently published by Chapeltown Books. And a shared publisher is not the only link between Lynn and I. See the full story on CFT.

And I look forward to chatting with Lynn next week about how she found the editing process (Chapeltown Books has a vigorous three stage process here) and discussing why using song lyrics in fiction really is not a good idea unless you have written said song lyrics yourself.

https://chandlersfordtoday.co.uk/introducing-lynn-clement-the-city-of-stories/

Lynn Clement and I share flash fiction in common but there is more.
Full story on CFT.

Am on the first leg of my train trip to the Brechin/Angus Book Festival as I draft this. So looking forward to taking part in this.

Meantime I’m pleased to share my latest blog post for Authors Electric. Naturally I’m talking about book festivals – well, they do say write what you know, right?!☺

Book festivals are a great way to celebrate books and my post takes a look at that aspect. Hope you enjoy.https://authorselectric.blogspot.com/2021/11/book-festivals-by-allison-symes.html

Plenty to look forward to at the Brechin/Angus Book Festival.

I’m packed ready to go to the Brechin/Angus Book Festival. Well almost. I just need to pack up this laptop after this evening’s writing session but then I’m ready. 

Plenty of writing to get on with on the train journey up. And am looking forward to plenty of reading too. And am always glad to spread the word about flash fiction so this weekend should be fun there!

Looking forward to sharing Part 1 of a fab interview on Chandler’s Ford Today with Lynn Clement, whose debut flash fiction collection The City of Stories was recently published by Chapeltown Books. Link up on Friday (though my times of posting will vary over the next few days).

Will be busy getting my next author newsletter ready once I’m back from my travels. I share writing tips, prompts, news etc here and there’s a giveaway too.If you want to check things out do go to my website at https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Am pleased to share my latest story on #FridayFlashFiction – hope you enjoy Lucky. I think my lead character, Bert, here was sensible – see what you think.

https://www.fridayflashfiction.com/100-word-stories/lucky-by-allison-symes

Hope you enjoy my latest tale on Friday Flash Fiction.

Will be spreading the word about flash fiction at the Brechin/Angus Book Festival this weekend. Am on my way up by train as I draft this.

I’ll be running a flash fiction workshop and will be looking at ways in to creating a story. I’m also giving a talk on The Ups and Downs of Becoming An Author and of course flash fiction is a major part of that. A hugely enjoyable part too!

And flash will be celebrated again tomorrow thanks to my Chandler’s Ford Today interview with Lynn Clement. Flash is a common link for us both. Link up tomorrow.

Celebrating flash fiction – one mini story at a time!😀

Looking forward to my flash fiction workshop as part of the Brechin/Angus Book Festival this weekend.

I’m “on” during the Sunday twice – firstly the workshop and then later in the day I’ll be talking about The Ups and Downs of Becoming An Author. This talk is especially apt given I discovered flash fiction by accident which has proved to be a definite “up”!

And you could argue my latest YouTube story is also an “up” given it is called Rocket!

Fairytales With Bite – Putting on the Glad Rags

Do your characters ever put on the glad rags and, if so, why? Do they achieve their objective in doing this? The obvious practitioner of this is, of course, Cinderella, though she did need fairy godmother help to get those glad rags in the first place.

Assuming magic is not involved here, what would your characters wear for daily life? What would they wear for special occasions? Are there dress codes?I save my own glad rags for special writing events but your characters could use doing this as a way to disguise how they really feel inside.

Putting on the glad rags can be like putting on a kind of armour especially when you want to put on a good “front” to someone/the world in general. Does putting this “front” on work? Does it help your character cope with a bad/sad situation?

Does it elicit sympathy from those closest to your character who know the glad rags business is just an act for your lead? Is there a situation when putting on the glad rags is the wrong thing to do? When perhaps your character would be better off coming out with how they really feel… plenty of story ideas to think about here I think.

Oh and one truth throughout most fairytales I think, is while magic can help a character, it doesn’t resolve the overall problem. Cinderella still had to get away from her awful stepmother, the Prince still had to find Cinders despite the use of magic to bring them together at the ball.

This World and Others – Cultural Events

What kind of culture exists in your fictional world? Is culture appreciated, a tourism magnet etc., or is it despised? 

Arts and the humanities are often not considered so valuable as, say, engineering, the sciences and so on. (All nonsense of course. All of these things are valuable and you can’t compare like with like anyway.

But what stance does your fictional world take? Has it ever changed its position and, if so, what made it do so? How do your characters react to their own culture? Are they an active part of it or do they leave the “arty” things to others?

If your fictional world does value culture, what kind is it? Is it “arty” or military based, say? Where would your characters best fit in? (You can find out more about what makes your characters tick here by looking at why they, say, prefer armed strength to the arts and so on. Are they compensating for their own weakness? Do they think they will become better, bigger people by showing a preference to the military side of things here?).

And can you develop characters who love the pomp and ceremony side of the military and the arts? How do they cope with others who prefer one or the other and consider the “opposition” something to be despised?

What sort of events does your world hold to commemorate historical events and is it compulsory for all citizens to take part? How does the culture of your fictional world affect the way it treats its own citizens and reacts to anyone/anything different?

Twitter Corner

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Book Events, Videos, and Inspiration

Image Credit:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Some images created in Book Brush using Pixabay photos. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.
Brechin/Angus Festival related images created by Sarah Archibald. All screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes, as were the photos of my copies of The Best of CafeLit 10 and the extract from my story in that. Photos of me reading at the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School Open Prose Mic Night were taken by Geoff Parkes and Fiona Parks. (Great job done too, guys, thank you!).
Hope you have had a good week so far. Am busy getting ready for the Brechin/Angus Book Festival. Will write more about that in due course, especially for Chandler’s Ford Today. Looking forward to catching up with writer friends here too (and making new ones!).

Brechin Poster

Facebook – General

Hope you have had a good Tuesday. I’ll be packing tomorrow for my trip northwards to the Brechin/Angus Book Festival. Now apologies are due from yours truly. I forgot to share my latest YouTube video yesterday so am making up for that now. Hope you enjoy this one – Rocket.


Many thanks to the good folks behind Christmas Book Hub for featuring my Tripping The Flash Fantastic today. (15th November 2021 – see screenshot below). Much appreciated especially the link

Am away from Thursday for the Brechin/Angus Book Festival. I will be posting but at different times. I look forward to reporting back (via Chandler’s Ford Today in particular) about how the Festival went.

TTFF on Christmas Book Hub 2021

Not a bad weekend. Just asked Amazon Author Central to include Resolutions: An Anthology, the latest book from Bridge House Publishing, to my page. I’m one of the contributing authors with my story Next Time, Maybe. For all of the anthologies I’m in I have to ask Amazon to add it to my page and they usually do so within a day or two.

I take the opportunity while doing this kind of thing to ask the Authors Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS) to add the book to my list with them. Why? Because I can earn some money from ALCS for all the books I either write or contribute to which are listed with them. (Can’t do ebooks as ALCS need an ISBN rather than an ASIN) but, as a certain supermarket would say, every little bit helps. It is always good to get more books added to the list!

Resolutions 3D

Hope you have had a good day. Glad to see the comments are still coming in for The Gift, my latest story on Friday Flash Fiction. Thanks, everyone.

So looking forward to the Brechin/Angus Book Festival next week. I’m going up on the Thursday and hope to report back on the Festival for Chandler’s Ford Today later in November. It will be great catching up with writer friends at this Festival too. (And do bear in mind that book events are great places to start your Christmas shopping. Just saying and all that…!).

I plan to do plenty of writing on the train up to Scotland – flash fiction, blogs etc. The great thing with doing this is I know I will use all of what I draft even if I don’t do so immediately. And I find that the act of writing in itself can trigger other ideas to explore. There is truth in the saying the more you write, the more ideas you will have. It is as if you need to get started and then a creative spark kicks in and before you know it other ideas have occurred to you (which you jot down immediately to avoid forgetting them again).

Screenshot 2021-11-12 at 16-51-35 The Gift, by Allison Symes

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Just a quick reminder that I often post flash fiction videos over on my YouTube channel. You can check it out at the link below. Latest story up is called Rocket. (Sorry meant to share this yesterday but forgot). Anyway hope you enjoy the videos. My sympathy on Rocket is definitely with the recipient here. See what you think.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCPCiePD4p_vWp4bz2d80SJA

 

Screenshot 2021-11-16 at 20-25-46 Allison Symes

A quick heads up for my Chandler’s Ford Today post this week. I am going to be discussing flash fiction with a fellow writer, Lynn Clement, in the first half of a two part interview. There is a lovely story behind how Lynn and I met and how we crossed paths again professionally recently. Lynn also has a splendid new book out called The City of Stories (published by Chapeltown Books). I look forward to sharing the link on Friday.

As I am away at the Brechin/Angus Book Festival from 18th to 22nd November, my postings will be at different times to my usual ones but thank goodness for Evernote, a smart phone, and a WIFI connection! They make postings possible! (I have to laugh at myself a bit here as I held out against a smart phone for ages. Can’t imagine my life without one now!).

 

Inspiration for my flash tales comes from all sorts of things – proverbs and phrases as I’ve mentioned before, but also personal tastes. In my Taking Time Out From the Day Job in The Best of CafeLit 10, my character’s secret sin is revealed to be chocolate bars, in particular Dairy Milk. Hmm… I didn’t have to look far for inspiration for that idea!

So you can take bits and pieces you like and loathe (either work) and see why your characters have these likings and loathings. Where a liking would not usually be a problem, put your character in a situation where it becomes one and see how they manage it. Good potential for comedy there. And what if a loathing for say travelling stops your character making progress in their career yet they want to advance in what they do and have to find a way around their travel phobia? What would they do? Again good story potential here.

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One thing I’m looking forward to doing at the Brechin/Angus Book Festival I’m taking part in next week is reading out some of my flash fiction. It is a great way to both demonstrate what flash is and entertain your audience. Flash has the benefit too of its restricted word count – you can’t go on for too long! Everyone likes that!

I’m running a workshop on flash fiction and giving a separate author talk on The Ups and Downs of Becoming an Author. This topic is especially apt as I discovered flash fiction by accident but it is definitely one of the “ups”!

Goodreads Author Blog – All The Fun of the Book Event

Next week, I will be at the Brechin/Angus Book Festival where I will be running a workshop on flash fiction and giving an author talk on The Ups and Downs of Becoming An Author. Very much looking forward to this.

I always enjoy spreading the word about my genre, flash fiction, and it is my great hope that, as a format, it might be useful in drawing in the reluctant reader given I’m not asking them to commit to too much in one go. Once you have someone reading, who knows where that will take them?

Book events are great fun because there is a lot of camaraderie between the authors taking part, hopefully you sell books, and the event in and of itself is a celebration I think of the written word. That is always a good thing. And, especially at this time of year, they make great places to begin your Christmas shopping! Well, there must be someone you know who’d appreciate a good book!

Why not pop across to your next book event and see if you can tick some more items off your present shopping list?

Of course, I will get to see what other books are available at the event. What are the chances of me coming home again without having added to my To Be Read list?

That’s right – none whatsoever! (And I think that is the way it should be too).

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Murder with Ghosts Review, Publication News, and The Gift

Image Credit:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Some images created in Book Brush using Pixabay photos.
A huge thank you to The Chameleon Theatre Group for kind permission to use their photos in my Chandler’s Ford Today post.
Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.
Nice intriguing title for tonight’s post I think! Hope you have had a good week. Am very much looking forward to going to the Brechin/Angus Book Festival next week. Many thanks to Sarah Archibald for the fab posters.

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Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

It is always a pleasure to share on Chandler’s Ford Today a review of the latest performance by The Chameleon Theatre Group. This time, I review Murder with Ghosts, a spoof written by Simon Brett. It was lovely to meet up with my fantastic editor at CFT, Janet Williams, for a kind of “CFT works outing”, which was the first we’ve had since before lockdown.

We had a fantastic time watching the performance and there are plenty of literary influences at work in this play. See the review for more. This particular play also gave me a very pleasant wander down memory lane too – again see the review for what and why.

I look at the performance, the play, and the setting – plenty to enjoy here. And what is always nice is The Chameleons hold raffles in aid of a charity each year. Of course that also went kaput last year thanks to You Know What but they are back in business on this too and are raising funds for the Hampshire Air Ambulance, a most worthy cause.

Review: Chameleon Theatre Group – Murder with Ghosts

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Looking forward to sharing my review of the latest production by The Chameleon Theatre Group on Chandler’s Ford Today this week. They staged a wonderful spoof by Simon Brett called Murder with Ghosts. Think Agatha Christie crossed with P.G. Wodehouse and you get a good idea. Link up tomorrow. (If you get the chance to see this play elsewhere, do go. It was marvellous).

Many thanks for the lovely comments on my post yesterday about Resolutions by Bridge House Publishing. See post further down. It is always a lovely feeling having another story published in one of their cracking anthologies. And I can’t wait to catch up with fellow authors from BHP at the celebration event in London on 4th December. What will be especially nice this year is we’re having lunch together first as well. Plenty of time to chat! After that I might even begin to think about Christmas!

PUBLICATION NEWS

Am so thrilled to be able to announce further publication news. The buzz of being published never diminishes!

I am delighted to say my story Next Time, Maybe is in the hot-off-the-presses Bridge House Publishing anthology, Resolutions. As ever with the BHP books, there is a wonderful eclectic mix of stories and styles here. My tale follows the mishaps of Sandra as she tries to find a resolution that works for her. Great fun to write and a character I think a lot of us would identify with. Does she succeed in her quest? Well there’s only one way to find out!

Resolutions is out in paperback and on Kindle from the usual outlets but the link takes you to the Bridgetown Cafe Bookshop, the online shop for Bridge House Publishing, CafeLit, Chapeltown Books.

Screenshot 2021-11-10 at 18-44-46 The Bridgetown Café Bookshop

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

A huge thank you for the wonderful comments coming in on The Gift, my latest tale on #FridayFlashFiction. Feedback is always appreciated. If you have cats, have ever owned any etc., this story will have particular resonance for you. Hope you enjoy it (oh and by the way this tale proves I am unbiased. I am a dog owner!).

Screenshot 2021-11-12 at 16-51-35 The Gift, by Allison Symes

Now after yesterday’s exciting news about Resolutions, the latest Bridge House Publishing anthology, comes news dear to a writer’s heart. I designed some new postcards for publicity purposes and they arrived as I’d hoped in good time for me to take them to the Brechin/Angus Book Festival. I look forward to showing them off there first and hopefully again at the BHP celebration event on 4th December.

Am always pleased when something like this works well. They always look wonderful on screen but holding the actual product in your hand and really liking it is good. And this has a nice link to flash fiction as one of the names for flash is postcard fiction (I.e. what you can get on the back of a postcard – roughly 200 to 300 words, depending on how tiny your writing is or not!).

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Am back between the covers again for Bridge House Publishing with my story, Next Time, Maybe, for their anthology called Resolutions. Good to see familiar names in here with me. When reading a short story or flash fiction collection, I look for a good mix of styles and moods. You won’t be disappointed here. Available in Kindle and paperback. And it is always a thrill to be published.

Below this book on the Bridgetown Cafe Bookshop is a collection by Lynn Clement called The City of Stories. I will be interviewing Lynn for Chandler’s Ford Today soon as I met her a few years ago when I was a guest speaker at the Hampshire Writers’ Society. Delighted to see she too has embraced the wonders of flash fiction!

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Fairytales with Bite – Practical Magical Transportation

We all know the busy fairy godmother has to have reliable transport and it would be ideal if she didn’t have to coerce…err… change some rats and other wildlife who somehow volunteered into becoming that transport. So the answer is to arrange things herself and fly. No broomstick for her. (She doesn’t like the chafing). What she needs is a powerful set of wings that can take her through storm force winds, torrential rain, unusual tornados above Kansas and that kind of thing.

Clothing is important too. No stupid tutus for her. It gets cold up there. So thermals to cope with the thermals is a good idea. Another item on her list is smart separates, ideally of the fleecy variety. She’s not looking for style here. She can change into something stylish on landing after all. And now you know why you never see a fairy godmother land. She needs time to sort herself out and then appear in something suitably sparkly and bright, waving her wand about, to go and help the next client on her list.

Oh and a decent pocket or several where she can stow her wands while flying, her mini spell book (so useful for any occasion), and a hip flask and high energy snacks are also vital. Flying does take it out of a fairy godmother. Still she doesn’t have to worry about calorie counting so that’s a plus.

What she really doesn’t need are the birds getting in her way when she’s moving at speed. She feels they resent anything not a bird being up in the sky with them. Her attitude is tough but the other reason she has to change her fleecy separates so often is because many birds have an excellent and unavoidable way of showing their disapproval and have a great aim with said disapproval which they express in physical form.

Even when you’re magical, things won’t always go your way.

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This World and Others – Transport Systems

Assuming my fairy godmother character has got to her latest destination safely, let’s take a look at transport systems you might want to bring into your own fiction.

A lot depends on the time frame for your work – is it futuristic (in which case invent your own transport)? Is it contemporary (in which case you could take what we have here and add a unique twist to it to make it unique to your fictional world?). Is it set in the past (in which case look at our old transport systems and see if there is something you can take from that to use in your fiction?).

When my family was younger, we used to love visiting the transport museums and it was fascinating to see how, say, trains developed. Why not consider a visit to places like this and see if something sparks your imagination here? (You get a better idea of size and scale if you go in person. Pick up a guide book – you can use this as a basic research tool as most of these are well written with details you might be able to use to help inspire your own ideas. Seeing how we did things can inspire ideas for how your characters will do things and not just for transport).

You also need to decide whether magic will be involved in your transport system, whether it is to make it work at all, or whether it is the transport system. You will need to decide what power is used here and especially if you do use a magical system, is that power sustainable? How is it obtained/generated?

Also is transport available to all or only the elite? Are there classes of transport and people use the kind assigned to their ranking? Are there roads as we would know them? Do your characters travel much or is this a rare event only done in an emergency? How do your people get from A to B?

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BookBrushImage-2021-10-1-19-5556

 

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Coming Home, Consequences, and Getting Ready for Brechin

Image Credit:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Some images created in Book Brush using Pixabay photos.
Scottish photos taken by me, Allison Symes. Screenshots also taken by me (though a huge thanks goes to Sarah Archibald for the Brechin/Angus Book Festival poster).
Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.

Facebook – General

Hope you have had a good day. Today was marginally less hectic than yesterday. Am hoping Wednesday will be better still!

I issued my November newsletter a little early (as it was easier for me to send it out before I went on holiday). If you would like to sign up for a monthly round-up on news, tips, prompts etc., do head over to my website (landing page) at https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com

Was good to get back to submitting work to #FridayFlashFiction on my return too. Am loving reading the other stories on here too.

Will be a busy period on Chandler’s Ford Today for a while too. As well as my forthcoming Chameleons review, I have a smashing interview coming up with an author I met as a result of my being a guest speaker at the Hampshire Writers Society (it really is a small world), and of course I will be reporting back from the Brechin/Angus Book Festival. I’m also looking forward to reporting back on the Bridge House Publishing event in December.

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Why is it Mondays are always the most hectic day of the week? Still, it was lovely to see Lady have an absolute ball this morning playing with her best buddy, the Rhodesian Ridgeback, and her other pal, a charming Hungarian Vizler. The latter, I swear, has the sweetest smile in the park and is always so pleased to see us! Both dogs also make their appreciation of being able to share Lady’s water bottle known as they have their own ways of saying thanks!

I’ll be reviewing Murder with Ghosts, the most recent production staged by The Chameleon Theatre Group for Chandler’s Ford Today this week. Some of my favourite influences make themselves apparent in this play. More on this when I share the link on Friday. And if you think the title sounds fun, you’re right!

Sent off my box of books for the Brechin/Angus Book Festival today. It’s always difficult to estimate how many books you will need for events like this but I was pleased to get my parcel off on its way.

And talking of books, I hope to share further publication news soon.

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It is true what they say about needing a holiday to get over your holiday! Having said that, it is lovely to be back at home after a lovely break away.

Am delighted to say the November issue of Mom’s Favorite Reads is now out. See link below. My article is about Memories, appropriate for November of course, and there are splendid flash pieces in as a result of my theme. Do check them out and I hope you find the article inspiring. What role could your character’s memories have in their stories? What happens if memories “clash”? Perspectives differ after all. Plenty of food for thought for stories there.

I’m also pleased to be the featured author on Page 50 of the magazine. And remember it is FREE.

The journey home acts like a grand tour of Scotland. It is fascinating to see the landscape change from mountains and rivers to farmland to lowland. In previous years, when we’ve been here in late May, there has still been snow on the mountains.

As ever, Lady didn’t really want to go home. She loves it on the beaches here but she will adore seeing her friends again next week.

I shall be finishing my prep work for the Brechin/Angus Book Fest this week and resume flash fiction writing so plenty to look forward to there.

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

One of the reasons I love the 100-word story is the fact you don’t have to wait long for the pay-off! I also enjoy the challenge of having to keep coming up with characters and story lines. And stories like this are easy to share on social media and I think make a great advert for what flash fiction is and can be.

Flash as a whole has sharpened my writing considerably and I find myself asking where is the story in this character I’m thinking of writing up. That’s a good thing. Knowing where the story is helps a lot later on too when you need to tell people what your tale is about. You will definitely know and you do need to be specific. What you don’t want is the glazed expression on the face of your audience as you try to tell them!

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Pleased to be back creating YouTube videos once more. Hope you enjoy Consequences. It was great fun to write though I have muted sympathy for my character here.

Good to be back home again after a wonderful Scottish break. (Particularly pleased to be home as weather conditions yesterday were horrendous and I hope everyone is okay). Looking forward to being back in Scotland next week too! Have had the delightful task of boxing up books ready for the Brechin/Angus Book Festival, which will be from 19th to 21st November. I plan to write up a report on the Festival for Chandler’s Ford Today after I get home again (and hope my current post there on Making the Most of an Author Event proves useful).

One lovely thing about events is I can often get to demonstrate what flash is by reading some out. It doesn’t take long and it can lead to sales! Am also looking forward to running a flash workshop and giving an author talk about The Ups and Downs of Becoming an Author as my route to the writing life has had its fair share of cul-de-sacs! Nor did I expect to end up being published in flash fiction. I do not regret this however!

Also pleased to be the featured author in the November issue of Mom’s Favorite ReadsAmazon Link for this further up.

And I hope to share further publication news later this week too. It’s all go right now but that is good! (Also can’t wait for the Bridge House Publishing celebration event on 4th December in London. So looking forward to catching up with writing friends there. We last met up in person in December 2019 though Zoom has been a lifeline – and a great way to share the wonders of flash fiction writing!).

Every story has to have a turning point. In flash, of course, you reach that point a lot sooner. That in turn makes you focus on what leads to that point.

It is why twist in the tale stories work so well in flash and why I often write that line first before working backwards to reach a logical beginning.

But there is nothing to stop you having that turning point right at the start of your tale. When I do this I have already sketched out various ways in which I could take that promising start. The one that has the most impact (by having an equally intriguing middle and satisfying ending) is what I go with. It pays to take time out to work out different possibilities. Best of all it’s fun too!

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Goodreads Author Blog – Mixing Up Your Reading

I like to mix up my reading in different ways.
Firstly, I mix up fiction and non-fiction.
Secondly, I mix up reading novels and short stories/flash fiction anthologies.
Thirdly, I mix up reading in paperback/on Kindle.
Fourthly, I watch stories (via film) and listen to them (via radio, audio books).
But the important thing is getting the reading in and doing so regularly. What I love to read directly inspires what I write.

Online retailBooks are books regardless of format

books signage

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people reading books in library

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assorted books

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opened book on tree root

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BookBrushImage-2021-9-17-20-3426AE - July 2021 - Great characters will keep you turning the pages

Making The Most of an Author Event

Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

Delighted to share my Chandler’s Ford Today post this week about Making The Most of an Author Event. (I hope to review The Chameleon Theatre Group’s recent performance of Murder with Ghosts next week).

I share in this post though some thoughts on what you can do as a writer to make the most of events. For readers, see this as a look behind the scenes of the writing life.
https://chandlersfordtoday.co.uk/making-the-most-of-an-author-event/

More time at Dunnet today. One gloriously happy dog having a riotous time with her ball on the beach now = one shattered dog having a curl up as she waits for dinner. Job well done there then! 

Bravest (or most foolhardy, you decide) souls were the ones who went paddle boarding today right on the top coastline of Scotland in temperatures that were invigorating to say the least! 

We have actually been fortunate with the weather. Lovely bursts of sunshine with a fantastic sunset tonight. Oh and there are noisy stags outside where we’re staying calling to the hinds. So we’ve been hearing the wildlife as well as seeing it. Have also seen grouse.

Loving watching the extended Lord of the Rings. Am remembering favourite lines and scenes as the film plays. The challenge to us as writers is to ask ourselves what makes our writing memorable?

I’ve mentioned before about the importance of impact on a reader. It will be the lines and scenes that make the reader feel something which will be the most memorable.

Today was spent exploring some of the North-West of Scotland. The mountains are more rugged but the rainbows, which seem to be following us this week(!), were stunning on the hillsides. Lady loved playing at Scourie beach. And there was an inquisitive seal popping up now and again.

Many thanks for all the lovely comments on my posts this week. Glad the pics are going down well though it is hard for any one photo to do justice to the scenery here.

My Chandler’s Ford Today post on Friday is Making The Most of an Author Event. I love self-explanatory titles!

This one is apt as I have the Brechin/Angus Book Fest and the Bridge House Publishing celebration events coming up in November and December. Am looking forward to both very much.

Hope the post will prove useful. Link up on Friday.

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Almost time to return to Hampshire but we finished our holiday by playing with Lady on Golspie Beach. This was especially nice as the sunset was superb here today and today is Lady’s 5th birthday. We can’t believe where the time has gone either.

Now talking of time, how do I use this in flash fiction? I have used countdowns in stories. I have also written pieces where Time is a character (and usually someone is trying to cheat Time too). I have used a specific time (generated by a random time generator) as the key point in a story.

With my character studies, I usually restrict what my character shares with the reader and having a period of time constraint can work well here. 

No one character is going to show you everything. We don’t usually need to know about someone’s babyhood for example so you select the time period in this character’s life we do need to know about for the story to make sense.

Time matters in fiction then! I haven’t even mentioned deadlines yet!😊

It’s amazing how quickly it gets dark in this part of Scotland. It really does seem as if someone has reached out and switched off the light. Change in an instant, almost. 

But for characters to change, especially if they’re becoming darker, the reader needs more time to see this change is coming and that the character is capable of that change.

I’ve been watching the extended Lord of the Rings this week and you can see how the ring of power corrupts Gollum from when it first came into his possession to when he lost it and in his later attempts to get it back. Yet he is aware of what it has done to him.Yes, he is a villain. He is also a tragic one. Tragic because he could have turned back to the light and didn’t.

So for our characters then it is important to sow seeds early on indicating to the reader that yes, this character could become like this. What the reader should be keen to find out is if that character does change and what the consequences are.

There are always consequences.

In flash you have less room to do this but it can be done. Get in early with the character point of change and follow through with consequences. Endings need to be appropriate.


Am concentrating on blog posts whilst away this week. Am looking forward to resuming flash fiction writing when home (though it wouldn’t surprise me if I draft some drabbles on the M6 on the way home. Have done this before!).

I suspect the fabulous scenery I’ve seen this week will not make it into my stories directly. But I do use photos to help me picture settings in which I could set characters. I look for ways into telling stories and photos can be so useful here.

Fairytales With Bite – Wishes and Willpower

Where there is magic, there is power. 

Where there is power, there is someone wanting to control that power.

Where there are wishes, there should be consequences to those wishes being fulfilled.

Where someone is worthy of having their wishes fulfilled, the consequences will be good ones as a worthy recipient is not going to wish for wrong things.

Where power is wielded by those of good heart, most will benefit. There will be no seeking to control or oppress others etc.

This World and Others – Soft Power

Soft power can be described as where someone uses their known influence for the genuine greater good of others.

For example, charity work carried out by renowned patrons of that charity is likely to bring in yet more financial and other support.

So in your fiction does this kind of soft power exist? If so, who wields it? What are the results? Who benefits?

If not, could a character bring it in to meet needs in their society? Could your fictional world be transformed by soft power?

Haunts and Twists

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Has been a day of rainbows, forest walks, and enjoying watching a gleeful Lady run after her ball on Golspie Beach. 

We’ve calculated she’s probably walked/run close to ten miles today. She always does twice as much as we do as she bounces around all the time. Think furry toddler and you get an idea of how active she is. 

Golspie also has a fab fish and chip shop, the perfect thing after an invigorating day outside. Am hoping my walking today will offset some of that but loved the walk and delicious food.

A huge thanks for all the lovely comments on my post yesterday. Am making great progress with the editing I wanted to work on whilst away and enjoying my reading too. 

Strange time of year for a break I know but we weren’t sure if we were going to get to go at all so when the  chance came, we grabbed it.

I’ve been doing more of that with regard to my writing too and it has been paying off.

Had you asked me two years ago if I’d be giving author talks etc on Zoom and in person, I’d have said it would be unlikely. Yet that is precisely what has happened because opportunities came my way and I went for them.

Hope to do much more of this but I have had to learn to be open to possibilities.

Good to revisit Dunnet, right on the top coast of Scotland. Lovely beach and Lady had a fabulous time. Is now having a lovely time snoozing away where we’re staying.

Am happily editing away on my non-fiction project and catching up with The Lord of the Rings trilogy boxset. First time I’ve seen the extended version. Loving it. Do feel this works so well precisely because it is true to the books.

My Chandler’s Ford Today post will be up on Friday as usual though I suspect I won’t get to submit anything to Friday Flash Fiction until I am back from Scotland. I am loving reading the stories on here and it is great to see more familiar names appearing here. More power to your pens and PCs, everyone!😊

Stormy day (hope everyone is okay) but it was good to explore Lairg and Golspie, two lovely places. Will probably be touring over next day or so.

The autumn colours on the hills around where we’re staying are amazing. And have seen loads of red deer in the field opposite. Not surprised at that as rutting is around now.

Looking forward to seeing what Doctor Who is up to later given it is the start of the new series.

Planning to edit non-fiction project while away. It has been on the back burner for a bit but want to get cracking on that while here. Definitely given myself enough time and distance to judge it more objectively now!

Am on my way for a short break in stunning Scotland. Plan to do plenty of walking with other half and dog.

We’re used to all sorts of weather conditions when out walking dog so we are reasonably well prepared for whatever might come our way. We also hope to visit favourite haunts, which is an apt phrase given it’s Halloween tomorrow!

Now do your characters have favourite haunts? If so, what are they and why do these places matter?

If not, could you give your character a favourite haunt which can reveal more of their personality? Could the haunt play a pivotal role in your story? Food for thought there I hope. (And if your story involves pumpkin it is even more timely!).

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

One of the nicest things I saw today was a massive rainbow over Golspie Beach. One end hit the sea (so you would need to be a decent swimmer to get the pot of gold from there!😊), and the other end coloured a swathe of trees quite literally in all the colours of the rainbow. 🌈🌈

Moments/single events are what flash fiction does best. It makes you focus on what really matters and nothing else. But you can apply that technique to any other form of writing you do and sharpen it considerably. No more going off at unhelpful tangents or diverting but no good to your story dead ends!

Nice job to do when I get home from my Scottish break is pack up some of my books ready for the Brechin/Angus Book Festival.

Looking forward to doing that and being at the Festival. Always good to spread the word about flash fiction. Though I think my dog might be confused as to why I’m off to Scotland again, this time without her!

I’m running a workshop at the event and will also be talking about the ups and downs of the author life. Looking forward to meeting people and book events are joyous things to go to as a writer and a reader.

A good flash tale will surprise the reader whether it is through a twist they didn’t see coming, or by showing them an aspect of your character that is not obvious at the start of the story.

It is a good sign if the writer enjoys writing the tale. I’m sure readers pick up on this. I know I’ve often thought a writer really enjoyed doing this bit when I read something that has struck me.

And I really enjoy coming up with twists or character development reveals so that is what I write most. I try to play to strengths and a writer has to love what they do to do that.

A huge thanks to all who have commented on my latest Friday Flash Fiction story, Competition. Am glad it has raised smiles though one of my characters in it wouldn’t see the funny side.

My author newsletter had to go out early but I do include all links to my online stories here too.

If you would like to sign up please head over to my website at https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com
It usually goes out on the first of the month and I include prompts, tips etc.
https://www.fridayflashfiction.com/100-word-stories/competition-by-allison-symes

Goodreads Author Blog – What Counts as “Proper Reading”?

When I was a kid, I loved Enid Blyton’s Famous Five series but she was not approved of. Yet she got kids reading. Other authors have faced the same thing, most notably J.K.Rowling.

For me it is the getting people reading that matters most. I’ve never understood the snobbery against comics and comic books either.Whatever you read, it’s vital you enjoy it. Else what’s the point?

Even books designed to educate rather than entertain need something to ensure readers don’t switch off.

Proper reading for me is when a book, story or article grips me enough to make me keep reading.

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