Book Recommendations

Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated with many created in Book Brush. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes.
Not a bad week. Have had lovely spring weather. And I get to talk about Book Recommendations for Chandler’s Ford Today this week – always something I’m happy to talk about. Lady hasn’t seen quite so many of her friends this week so will be hoping for better I suspect next week!


Facebook – General and Chandler’s Ford Today

It’s that time of the week once again – time for my Chandler’s Ford Today post. This time I’m talking about Book Recommendations and I share my criteria for my recommending any book to anyone. I also share what I would recommend at the moment (book recommendations are always updated!) and I discuss why I would recommend a series to writers. As ever, comments are welcome on the CFT page.

Book Recommendations

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Lovely day today – able to switch from good old mac to a body warmer. Will probably chuck it down tomorrow. Apologies if it does!

Looking forward to the Association of Christian Writers’ Flash Fiction group meeting on Zoom next week. Always fun and I get to draft flash pieces during this too! Yes, I do set homework but I also do it (not in advance either) so again it helps me get more flash pieces written. I can work out what to do with them later on. I will find homes eventually and I also build up pieces for inclusion in a future collection.

I’ve found over time little is wasted in writing. Stories I haven’t been able to place I have rewritten or taken a character out and reused the character. You learn from what doesn’t work as well as from what does, which is another reason why I feel even rejections are not wasted experiences. Doesn’t stop them hurting at times. But you can learn from them.

May be an image of text that says "Rejections hurt but you can learn from them. Sometimes you can have work rejected, look at it again, and go ση to have an improed piece accepted elsewhere. But But be open to learning from the rejections."

Hope you have had a good day. Will be looking at Book Recommendations for Chandler’s Ford Today on Friday. See above. Looking forward to sharing that. I’ll be setting out my criteria before I recommend a book to anyone. One nice bonus to going to writer events is you end up with a load of book recommendations made to you so no danger whatsoever of running out of things to read. (Perish that thought!).

I’ll be off soon to see The Chameleon Theatre Group perform their latest production. Aptly called Spring Trio, this will consist of three one act plays. Looking forward to seeing that and it will be another Chandler’s Ford Today “works outing” given my lovely editor will be going as well. Review to follow in due course.

Writing Tip: Forget word counts. Is that odd for a flash fiction writer to say? Not really. Get your story or blog down first, then worry about the tidying up. Then worry about what the word count is – and sort accordingly. You really do need to work out what it is you are saying first, then worry about how many words you can use to do just that.

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

It’s the end of the week so time for another story of mine on Friday Flash Fiction. I hope you enjoy Going Home. Lovely to see some great comments coming in on this one already. Thanks, folks!
Screenshot 2023-04-21 at 09-47-09 Going Home by Allison Symes

Looking forward to a flash workshop I’ll be running in May. That one will be on Zoom (which is a fabulous word to get out in Scrabble by the way. Have only done it once. Got it on a treble word score and scored over 90 with it. My bragging rights are definitely word related!).

I love online and in person workshops, whether I am running them or going to them. Have learned plenty from both kinds.

Don’t forget my author newsletter will be out again soon (1st May). To sign up for tips, news, story links etc., do head over to my landing page at – and a huge hello to all who have already signed up. It is good to have you aboard!


Must admit I do love picking out pieces to read at Open Prose Mic Nights and the like. I like to mix up the mood as well as the word count of the stories I pick for this. I also mix them up altogether for other occasions so I don’t just read the same ones. I also practice reading these and will often use Zoom to play back my readings so I can hear how they sound. I’ve found that facility so useful and it means I can ensure I get my timings right.

You usually have up to five minutes for these things. People don’t mind you coming in at under that time. What they don’t want is you going over it. Nor do you want to unintentionally irritate other performers doing that. And it is a good practice to get into for those times when you might want to submit a story for broadcasting. You will know how long time wise your story is and again ensure you fit in with the broadcaster’s requirements here. More likely to get a second bite of the cherry if you fit in!

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Fairytales with Bite – Twists

To my mind, all fairytales have twists in them. The “harmless old lady” who turns out to be a powerful magical being in disguise so watch how you treat them or she will make you pay is one of my favourite twists here. Fairytales taught me early on that it isn’t a good idea to judge by appearances alone. Plus the stories are full of unexpected/unlikely heroes/heroines who make the story work Like that aspect a lot too. A girl in rags isn’t usually considered to be a heroine but the world of the fairytale turns expectations upside down.

How can you make use of that for your stories? What would nobody expect your character to be able to do (inbuilt prejudices?) and they then go on to do them? What would be the consequences? Could these be humorous or tragic?

Regardless of what you write, when you use twists, they must be reasonable for the characters, your setting, and the story line. I find it helpful to work out what my twist will be first, then figure out how that could come about “naturally” in my story line. I think of this as working from B to A! (But it does work. Well worth trying. It means I know my twist is logical and makes sense).


This World and Others – Setting Scenes

With my flash fiction, due to its limited word count, I tend to use selected details which will conjure up a wider picture of my setting in the reader’s mind. If I set a story in an alien world, I will use one or two details to show the setting cannot be on Earth/is definitely an alien world but I don’t go into chapter and verse. I will show you an alien who can make himself shrink so he can hide in a ping pong ball (and I have done this!). The fact the alien can shrink into that shows you that this creature is not of this world and probably needs to find better places in which to hide. (Yes, the tale was a humorous one. It is my oddest setting to date).

For longer stories, I’ve got the room to share a little bit more detail but I still try to avoid big swathes of description. I would rather show you my character spilling the tea out of her cheap crockery (rather than tell you this was in a drab lounge because you can imply if the crockery is cheap, where she is living is likely to be as well). I try to work out the details a reader couldn’t guess and ensure those facts go in – the rest they can and will work out. I love doing this myself when I’m reading works by other writers. I love being able to picture the scene without every little detail being “spoon fed” to me. I want to work some things out but need the right clues to do it.

As for twists, as mentioned in Fairytales with Bite above, I will ensure the right clues are put earlier on in the story so when the twist does come, readers can look back and see that yes, this twist could happen because the seeds were sown for it in paragraph three or what have you. (This where working out what the twist is first pays dividends and help me set my scenes more convincingly too).





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