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 Hannah Kate for kind permission to use her photo regarding Three Minute Santas. Very cold this week and have seen first lot of snow for the winter. Writers often talk about having “layers” to their characterisation. Right now, the one having layers around here is me!
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Busy day. Bitterly cold one too. Lady had a great day though playing with her “boyfriend”, a lovely tri-coloured Aussie Shepherd. He had the perfect coat for this weather. I did go swimming today. How can you tell when it is really cold outside? When the pool water feels like you’re swimming in a warm bath. Trust me. The water isn’t like that!
Looking forward to sharing my post on Chandler’s Ford Today about the recent Bridge House Publishing celebration event. Such fun to go to that – and lovely to have it again after the turmoil of recent years cancelling it.
Have you made any writing plans for the New Year? I’m hoping to resume work on another long term project I’ve got in draft now I’ve submitted my third flash fiction collection to Chapeltown Books. Oh and I’ve booked for The Writers’ Summer School, Swanwick taking advantage of the Early Bird rate (which means I’ve paid the same as for this year’s event).
In the run up to 2023 though, I plan to continue to submit flash tales and blog posts but will slowly wind down as we reach Christmas Day. I’m looking forward to doing a lot of reading over the Christmas holidays too. And if the weather stays this cold, staying indoors to write and read seems like an even better idea than it already is!
Hope you have had a good Monday. Lady got to play with her best buddy, the Rhodesian Ridgeback, who looked very smart in her coat. I was wrapped up like the old Michelin Man. (It is not a good look!). Then their other friend joined us, the Hungarian Vizler, also looking very smart in her coat. Am so grateful writing is generally done indoors!
Broadcast News: Looking forward to sharing the link for Three Minute Santas on Hannah Kate’s show on North Manchester FM when I get the link. The show goes out on Saturday 17th December from 2pm and it is great fun listening to the variety of festive flashes here.
Had our first lot of snow today. Laid briefly too. Lady not too understanding about the fact Mum wanted to keep moving when we were out on our walks today. She wasn’t fazed at all. Mum on the other hand just wanted to keep as warm as possible. (Mind you I was doing a great impersonation of the old Michelin man – readers of a certain age will remember that one well. Let’s just say it isn’t a flattering look on anyone. I lost count of how many layers I had on!). The highest temperature reached in my part of the world was +1 and that was at midday.
Have put in my book request list for Christmas. (I don’t think I’m on Santa’s naughty list – well, I wasn’t the last time I checked – so am looking forward to book shaped presents under the tree in due course!). Have submitted my annual flash piece for a national competition so fingers crossed time again.
Don’t forget my latest story, Numbers, is up on Friday Flash Fiction.
Hope you’ve had a good day. One benefit of raking up the leaves in front of my place is it does keep your warm! No snow in my part of the world but the frost is deep, crisp, and even.
Will be taking a look back at the recent Bridge House Publishing celebration event for Chandler’s Ford Today next week. Link up on Friday. After that I hope to write up my usual festive flash piece for CFT where I’ll also take a look back at my writing year. (I hope by then I’ll be able to share the link to the Hannah Kate Three Minute Santas show on North Manchester FM. That show goes out on Saturday 17th December).
Writing tip: I’ve mentioned having a stock of stories before. Certain themes always crop up in competitions – love, justice, crime, and so many more. So you could prepare stories on those themes knowing you are very likely to find a home for them. Also prepare other stories because there are a lot of “open” competitions around too. I often batch cook – it saves time overall. You can batch write too – same result in terms of time!
Also it pays to have another look at stories you haven’t placed. You’re likely to have had enough time away from these to be able to judge them objectively. Is there something you can now do with them that you weren’t able to see before? Always worth another look. I’ve gone on to have work published doing this.
Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again
I often use major traits to get into a character’s mindset. Someone who is honest – well I can then put them in situations where it would pay them to lie and see how they manage it.
Knowing the trait means I can then work out the situations they would find easy to handle and, far more interestingly, the ones they wouldn’t.
Minor traits feeding off the main one can also be great areas to explore. An honest person could be tactless as well. Why? Simply because they’re so honest they can’t tell even white lies when it would be kinder to do so. What kind of trouble could that land them in?
Pleased to share my new YouTube story, Travelling Light. It is time for the Christmas puns to start! Hope you enjoy.
Hope you have had a good day (and kept warm – you can see why mulled wine is such a big hit at this time of year! Mind you, I prefer hot chocolate).
Got a flash piece off a for a competition and am looking forward to listening to Hannah Kate’s Three Minute Santas on 17th December. Her festive show on North Manchester FM is great fun and it is a joy to have a piece included in it again this year.
I like being able to set my characters anywhere and everywhere in flash and, of course, with festive flash, you can have great fun playing with the traditions in it. After all, Santa is known to have elves as assistants but what it they’re disgruntled with their lot etc? There is fun to be had in writing that kind of story up but you need to give thought as to what would make your elves feel this way and to how the problem here is resolved. It is what you bring to the mix here that makes your story stand out.
Themes for flash pieces (and often things like blog posts too) can be found via books of proverbs, random generators, and many other sources. Think of themes that would appeal to you and ask yourself why this is and can you do something with that topic for your own writing?
You can also think of themes which would appeal to your characters but not necessarily to you! Again have a look at why this might be and put yourself in your characters’ shoes. They will have good reasons for feeling the way they do about this theme.
This is where interviewing your characters is a great technique for getting to the bottom of why they feel the way they do. You do have to understand your characters. You don’t need to like them, just know where they’re coming from.
Goodreads Author Blog – Anthologies
I’ve been fortunate to be published in many anthologies including the most recent from Bridge House Publishing (Evergreen – an Anthology). It is great fun to write for these and it’s a privilege and pleasure when your story is selected.
I read anthologies too, regardless of whether my work is included or not, because I’m a firm believer in supporting the market I want to be in! Also, I want to mix up the kind of things I read. I read novels, novellas, flash, short stories, collections of the latter two categories, as well as magazines and the like. I want a good and varied reading “diet”.
Anthologies are a great way to find authors new to you and many either support charities or are produced by independent publishers who give more authors a voice. For many it is their way into being published at all. It was for me.
I also like varied moods in my stories (whether I read or write them) and in anthologies, you get this in one book so that’s another reason to love them. You can also work out the kind of writing style and mood you prefer by reading these. I tend to like a lighter touch. I’ve described my own collections as “mixed assortments” and this can apply to most anthologies too.
Even when on a single theme, you can be amazed at what the contributing authors have come up with for it. I’ve done this myself. For the Waterloo Arts Festival Writing Competition a while back, I had to write to a set word count on a set theme. Fifteen winners (including me) wrote to those stipulations but the way all of the authors took the topic was amazing.
I often use anthologies to read in between reading novels to make sure I do mix up my reading and to help me make up my mind which genre of novel I will read next.
I often write festive flash which is great fun to do. This kind of humorous story works best when kept short so flash fiction is ideal here. Do you write specific fiction for seasons/events etc? What are the challenges compared with what you usually write? pic.twitter.com/hwrkttojtS— ACW (@ACW1971) December 10, 2022
liked Allison Symes's blog post: Anthologies https://t.co/tewe4GrZoQ via @goodreads I talk about a topic very close to my heart for Goodreads this week – anthologies! Hope you enjoy. pic.twitter.com/IAKD5lwqEb— Allison Symes (@AllisonSymes1) December 10, 2022
One thing I love about carols is many tell the story of the Nativity from varying viewpoints. We have stories told by/about shepherds, Magi, and even starring the donkey and star. Do you have a favourite? If you write Christmas stories, how do you decide which viewpoint to use? pic.twitter.com/EysQ4JAhb4— ACW (@ACW1971) December 11, 2022
Stories enlighten as does the Nativity. I see a young woman having her first baby, scared then relieved, and then bemused by strange visitors. I wonder what Joseph made of it all but we can understand the feelings here. Understanding is key to creating good characters ourselves. pic.twitter.com/T6AeYb3b34— ACW (@ACW1971) December 12, 2022
Pleased to share my new YouTube story, Travelling Light. It is time for the Christmas puns to start! Hope you enjoy.https://t.co/K8licv59nN— Allison Symes (@AllisonSymes1) December 12, 2022