Retreats, Flash Fiction and Books You Treasure

Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Some images created in Book Brush using Pixabay photos. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes. Images from The Hayes, Derbyshire taken by me too. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.
Hope you have had a good weekend. It was lovely to catch up with my colleagues on the Association of Christian Writers Commitee as we plan ahead. I think The Hayes is probably going to be my second home this year – I am due to be back there two further times this year!


Facebook – General

Am loving tonight’s Classic FM Concert – it’s celebrating John Williams’ 90th birthday. My favourite is The Raiders March from Indiana Jones. I think the best Williams has ever written is the Theme from Schindler’s List. The scariest? No contest – that’s the Jaws theme.

Moving on rapidly from that (and I am so glad I only ever swim in a swimming pool!), my Chandler’s Ford Today post this week will be Endings in Fiction. I’ll share some classic examples and look at what I think a successful story ending should achieve. Link up on Friday.

I’ve used the theme of retreat for my YouTube video this week (I’ll be posting the link on my book page shortly at see further down for the link).

I’ve used it for my submission to Friday Flash Fiction this week as well but the moods of the two stories are different. That’s a lovely thing about setting a broad theme – you can take it in many different directions and you can write up differing stories. So why not give it a go?


Many thanks for the wonderful responses in so far for Timing, my latest piece on Friday Flash Fiction. Much appreciated though what my dentist will make of it is another matter. To find out why I mention that, check the story out at the link. Great fun to write – hope you enjoy it.

Screenshot 2022-02-04 at 08-57-53 Timing, by Allison Symes

Currently on way home from the ACW Committee Retreat. Had lovely time, we got plenty done, and it was so nice to see everyone.

As ever with these things, I took plenty to work on in my spare time. Did manage to do more than I thought but not as much as I’d have liked! Always the way of it, I guess.

Today must be a strange day for the Queen – sadness and celebration all intermingled. (6th February 2022 – the 70th anniversary of her Accession but also the 70th anniversary of the loss of her father, King George VI).

Emotions can be strange like that – and our characters shouldn’t be all sad, all happy, and nothing in between. For them to seem real to our readers, our characters should reflect the mixture of emotions we experience.


I’m at The Hayes, Swanwick for the Association of Christian Writers Committee Retreat. So lovely to see my colleagues in person again rather than just on screen, even though Zoom is incredibly useful.

I’ll be back here again in June for the ACW WOWIG weekend (Worth Our Weight in Gold) and I’ll be running a flash fiction workshop here. The weekend celebrates ACW’s Golden Jubilee. It is a big year for Jubilees!☺

And I’ll be back yet again in August for the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School. I think 2022 is when this lovely part of Derbyshire is going to be my second home!

Am also looking forward to running a flash workshop at the Scottish Association of Writers Conference in March.

So busy, busy but all in great ways and I adore talking about flash and trying to persuade others to give it a go. It’s fun, helps you improve your writing and editing skills, and if like me, you love creating characters, it is the ideal format for you.

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Hope you enjoy Retreat, my latest YouTube story. Am a day later this week due to being away at the weekend but the thought of my being on retreat then led me to take the idea of retreat as a theme. Also pleased I found such an apt audio track on this one and again a huge thanks to #DawnKentishKnox for letting me know about the YouTube audio library. It is useful!


Hope you have had a good start to your week. I hope to get a story off to Friday Flash Fiction this week and I plan to write a YouTube tale, hopefully to share tomorrow. I think the first part of this week will be spent catching up with what I didn’t manage to get done while away.

Having said that, I did manage to get some useful writing work of my own done while on the train over the weekend so was pleased with that. (And flash fiction is easy to draft on the ever useful Evernote!).

How do I start on a flash fiction tale? It depends. Yes, I know – helpful, not! But when I say it depends, it really does depend on whether I’ve got a theme in mind already or not. Sometimes I’ve got my eye on a competition with a set theme so I know I’m writing to that or I just know I want to write a funny piece and then I think about the kind of character who could be the star of said tale.

My outline then is either based on the theme and what I could bring to it or on the character – why are they funny? What do they do to make the situation funny? Does their personality increase the comedy? Characters almost always don’t think they’re funny or that their situations are – it is serious for them – it is the reader looking in who gets the laughs and that is how it should be.

But I must admit I do have a soft spot for the pompous character as it is great fun to set them up for a deserved fall. Writing can be therapeutic at times like that! If I’ve had a tough day, writing something to make me laugh is great fun but also takes me out of myself for a while and hopefully the story will do the same for a reader.

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Flash fiction is aptly named as a flash light illuminates a brief area and flash tales focus on one important moment for a character.

If the character grips you, there’s nothing to stop you putting them in other flash tales and showing other aspects to them.

And there is novella-in-flash where each chapter (up to 1000 words) is its own stand alone story but where succeeding chapters develop the character and storyline further. So that is always an option.
Bar the word count, flash is flexible.

BookBrushImage-2021-10-27-20-718BookBrushImage-2021-9-17-20-3426Where will your fiction take your readers and will it make them laughGENRES - Character studies are best kept short so work well in flashAE - July 2021 - Great characters will keep you turning the pagesGENRES - Writing flash means I can set my characters anywhereAE - July 2021 - A great character drives the plot

One thing I bear in mind when writing flash is how many characters I want to write up.

For flash tales under 500 words, I find two characters work best though I often only use one and get them to refer to another character who is effectively “off stage”.

For between 500 and the 1000 words maximum, I will use two, sometimes three, and again there will be references to others.

Whenever I use references to other characters, it is to add depth to my tale and the information in the references always moves the story on.

Everything in the story has to justify its being in the story.

Goodreads Author Blog – Books You Treasure

I treasure all of the books I have, of course, but some are just that bit extra special.

These include books left to me by my late mother (a beautiful collection of the works by Dickens is the highlight there) and the first book I bought for myself in my teens.

That was Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen and I still have it. I collected many of the Famous Five books by Enid Blyton in my younger years too.

I still have the Louisa May Alcott books – Little Women, Good Wives, Little Men and Jo’s Boys.

I will always have a soft spot for Jingo as that was the first Discworld novel I read. I eagerly read the rest of Terry Pratchett’s fabulous and fantastic series after that.

So which books do you treasure and why?

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