Favourites

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. For my CFT post this week, one photo was also taken by me and another is a family heirloom shot. Hope you have had a good week. Not bad here. Busy week on the blogging front and I’ve two stories to share here. Hope you enjoy.

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Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

It has been a busy week on the blogging front (and a huge thank you for the lovely comments coming in yesterday on my More than Writers piece – see below). Tonight though it is time for my weekly spot on Chandler’s Ford Today and this time I look at Favourites.

My piece last week on Looking Back was a reflective one following the Queen’s death but I thought it would be nice to have a kind of follow on post which was lighter in tone.

Favourites takes a cheery stroll down Memory Lane and I share some thoughts on favourite sweets, books, music etc. Do join in with your comments too. Hope you enjoy the post.

Favourites

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29th September – More than Writers

It’s my turn on the More than Writers, the Association of Christian Writers blog spot. This time I talk about Season of Mist and Mellow Fruitfulness – definitely apt for the time of year! – and apply it to the writing life. Hope you enjoy it and find it encouraging.

Hope you have had a good Wednesday. Busy, busy, busy this week as getting ready for a family do at the weekend. Lady loves these and will be spoiled rotten. That may have some connection as to why she loves family events…

Was sorry to hear of the death of Brother Andrew of Open Doors fame (an organisation which helps persecuted Christians. It is a sad truism if you have one group of persecuted people, there will be others being persecuted too. It saddens me a lot that we are still having the debate on religious freedom in this day and age – it should be a “given” and yes that includes the right not to believe. It should be a conscience issue).

Moving on to writing matters, I’ve set my monthly challenge for Mom’s Favourite Reads for the November issue and the October edition will be out very soon. I’ll also be sending out my author newsletter on Saturday. Am finishing the final touches for that one. I tend to add bits and pieces throughout the month. It helps!

May be an image of ‎text that says "‎When I've quizzed my characters enough, I write their stories up. An outline is a necessity for me. 10 - اهاهاا‎"‎

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

It’s Friday and that must mean it is time for another story on Friday Flash Fiction.

This one is called Going Home and was inspired by a picture prompt I used when setting exercises for the Association of Christian Writers Flash Fiction group last week. Hope you enjoy the tale and would you do what my character is here? Do check out the other fabulous stories on this site. It is a great read and lovely way to have a good “fix” of contemporary flash fiction.

Screenshot 2022-09-30 at 09-25-38 Coming Home by Allison Symes

Many thanks to the lovely people at Elgin Writers for making me so welcome at last night’s flash fiction workshop on Zoom. It was great to meet you and and glad you found the workshop useful.

Another aspect to flash fiction writing is many of the techniques used for it will help you with other forms of writing. For example, you learn to think laterally to make the most of your word count and to write “tightly”.

You can apply that across the board. No more wasted words. No more descriptions which add little of value to your story and the characters. Learning to write with your Ideal Reader in mind and thinking about the impact of your story from the first word. All good stuff here.

May be an image of text that says "WHAT'S YOUR The short form -standard or flash -is is excellent for improving writing skills."

Flash has done so much for me from being published to tightening up my writing (and I am sure that has led to the being published scenario!). It is fun, great for when you don’t have huge amounts of time to write (because it means you can write something).

It has done wonders for my appreciation of good characterisation too. It is my belief every writer can benefit from practicing flash writing and is something I often cover in my workshops.

Advantage to flash is setting characters anywhere

Fairytales with Bite – Magical Rivals

Sparks should fly between magical rivals but how can they stop their magic from destroying themselves given they will face the problem of the other being capable of matching their “firepower”? It is why they’re rivals after all.

What do they use instead of magic to get the upper hand? How to those around them cope with the rivalry and what are the consequences of it for their followers and opponents?

How do those higher up from them deal with these rivals or do the latter take care to ensure they don’t trouble the authorities? The latter would be wise but actions have reactions and consequences which can often spread wider than intended. Could there be any circumstances where the rivals are forced to work together?

Story ideas can also come from exploring what led to the rivalry in the first place. Also whether any of them want the rivalry to end (for reasons of regret at the outcomes of it? Wanting friendship instead?). Even where the rivals themselves are happy to keep things going, are there others determined to put a stop to it and how do they do it?

You could also look at how things develop when rivals do become friends instead. Not everyone would welcome the change. (Who could be exploiting the rivalry to their own ends here and have vested interests in seeing it continue?).

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This World and Others – Growing Seasons

How does your fictional world produce its food and are the growing seasons like ours on Earth? If not, why are theirs different and what do they have in the way of light and water for their agriculture? Do your main species grow food or is that the work of robots etc?

Thinking more laterally, we all have seasons in life where we “grow”. We learn a lot, often through hardships etc. Can you explore that idea for your characters? What is it they have had to learn the hard way?

Naturally a growing season also indicates there has to be a dormant one so again look at your characters. What periods of their lives would they consider to be dormant and why? What brought them out of that?

Growth does indicate effort – how much effort do your characters like to contribute? (Not everyone is keen on huge efforts after all, especially if there is no obvious or quick reward for it!).).

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Looking Back

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. In what has been a historic week, I take the opportunity to look back, share a new story, and prepare to embrace the new season. It has taken an autumnal turn here!

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Facebook – General and – Chandler’s Ford Today

Am pleased to share Looking Back, my new post for Chandler’s Ford Today. At the end of the week which began with Her Majesty’s funeral, I thought I’d look back at some of the events I recall over the last few decades and set them against some of the major royal events which were in the news at the time. I look at the importance of taking time out to reflect too.

Long term, I believe it does you good. We need time to process things and taking time out gives you some of that at least. There is a time for looking back, even enjoying some nostalgia but the important thing I think it not to wallow in this but to learn from our past and move on. But you need to take time out to reflect and then move on. It is in the reflecting we learn.

Looking Back

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Lady got to play with her pal, Coco, today. Lovely time had by both dogs. Always nice to see dogs playing.

My Chandler’s Ford Today post this week is about Looking Back, which to me seemed an apt topic in the week of the late Queen’s funeral. Given Her Majesty was the only monarch I’d known, I’ve taken a look back at the decades I’ve been on the planet and shared some of my highlights against the backdrop of major events in her long reign. (Naturally I could not cover all of those). I also reflect on why I feel it is important to reflect. Link up tomorrow. See above.

Many thanks to those who came to the Association of Christian Writers Flash Fiction group on Zoom last night. It was great fun and I hope we all produce stories from it. We at least have got a head start on some! (And it was the tonic I needed after a frustrating day thanks to the Case of the Non-Appearing Washing Machine Engineer! See below!).

I’m giving another Zoom talk next week on flash fiction and am looking forward to that.

 

Hope you have had a good day. Has been a bit of a frustrating one here – have been waiting in for an engineer to visit. No engineer! Ring the company up and “apparently” they rang me late last week to say the part needed wasn’t in. They didn’t. I did point out that they didn’t call and also they could’ve emailed me (they have to have my email address). Not impressed. It’s a lesson of how NOT to do customer service. Did manage to walk Lady though – she’s had the better day!

It will be especially nice to be at the Association of Christian Writers Flash Group meeting tonight. It will be fun and great to see everyone especially after a frustrating day. I suspect an awkward customer service person may end up in a flash piece of mine at some point – writing can be so therapeutic at times!

Always a joy to talk or write about flash fiction

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

It’s Friday night and time for another story of mine which appeared on Friday Flash Fiction. Hope you enjoy Good for Something – my writer character has fears about their upcoming book signing.

Screenshot 2022-09-23 at 08-55-01 Good For Something by Allison Symes

Am looking forward to sharing my flash fiction workshop to some lovely Scottish writers next week. This is where Zoom is a blessing!

What I love about flash is especially on those days where I’m tired or just too busy, I can still write something. I can still create something. And that makes me feel so much better.

Unless I am on holiday, or ill, where I expect not to write much, if at all, I have to have my fix of daily creative writing. Am a grouch without it – you heard it here first!

Flash is a wonderful outlet for small pieces you wouldn’t otherwise do something with so I love it for that too.

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Feeling very autumnal at the moment. Not that I mind. I think autumn is a lovely season. But as the days grow shorter and the nights longer, can that be made use of in a story? A crime flash piece is perhaps the obvious use for that but you could also do reflective pieces where the characters are tune into the mood of the season to share something important with us.

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Fairytales with Bite – A New Beginning

The classic fairytales often end with “and they lived happily ever after”. It’s what we expect. But for me that line heralds the start of a new beginning for the characters involved. Where could their story take them next?

Many an additional fairytale has come from writers asking and answering that question. It is along those lines I got into print for the first time back in 2009 with A Helping Hand from Alternative Renditions (Bridge House Publishing). I looked at the Cinderella story from the viewpoint of the youngest step-sister and explored if there could be a new beginning for her.

Screenshot 2022-09-23 at 20-17-54 Allison Symes

You can take the idea of a new beginning for characters who have solved one crisis and have to learn to live with their new situation in which they find themselves. How would they adjust? Do they need additional support? Do they get it? And when a character has literally moved on, how do those left behind cope with their new beginning? Is it a good thing for them or something they are not looking forward to having to cope with?

A new beginning can be a threat to a character as well as holding out a promise. How will you make your characters face and deal with their new beginnings and what triggers such things? Have your characters known this was coming?

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This World and Others – Continuity

Many of us like continuity in our lives. We like to know certain things will happen at certain times. We like to know we are going to be able to do the things we need to do to survive and so on. Some of us like a routine. (I do. It’s how I get my writing done). So we can apply this directly to characters too.

Think about how they would react if that continuity was threatened or even taken away for a while. How would they cope? Do they get the natural rhythm of their lives back again or do they have to face up to change they didn’t seek and set up a new kind of continuity?

Are there other characters who thrive on chaos? What happens when they disrupt the community continuity and how do characters react to that disruption?

What community leaders does your setting have and how do they react to threats to their authority? It is not likely to be a good reaction but are they measured in how they put things right (in their eyes) or do they take extreme measures? Are they prepared to do anything to get that continuity back?

Definite story ideas there!

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Stories, Naming Characters, and Addictive Flash Fiction

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.
Hope you had a good weekend. Nice to have publication news to share this week. Glad to share two links to two of my stories as part of that.

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Facebook – General

Hope you have had a good Tuesday. Loved a swim earlier on today and Lady got to play with her best buddies, the Rhodesian Ridgeback, and the Hungarian Vizler. Lovely dogs. Girls had a great time. Good day all round here then!

Looking forward to leading the Association of Christian Writers Flash Fiction group tomorrow (so my posts may be up late or early tomorrow depending on what kind of day I have!). I’ve used PowerPoint more in the last twelve months or so (as it is so useful to use on Zoom) than I have in the last twelve years. That really isn’t an exaggeration.

Many thanks for the lovely responses (especially on Twitter) to Jubilee, my latest story on CafeLit. Link below. This tale was one where I knew the name of the character immediately (I don’t always). Here I anted an older lady, who is a little posh but well meaning with it – Dorothy it had to be then!

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Publication News – CafeLit
Delighted to be back on CafeLit with my new story, Jubilee. I wrote this as a homework exercise I set for the Association of Christian Writers Flash Fiction group which I lead. Dorothy is one of those characters who grow on you – see what you make of her here. Hope you enjoy.

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Today would have been my father’s 85th birthday. He is much missed by all the family. What was nice was my late Mum got to see my first story in print and Dad got to see my first book. Don’t think they’d be too impressed with the state of the world right now, especially since both of them were child evacuees.

On a happier note I am glad to say I will have a new story up on CafeLit tomorrow. Am looking forward to sharing the link then. See above!

And I think I may have found what may be my favourite title for a Chandler’s Ford Today post. My blog this week will be called Verbs and Verbosity In Fiction! Link up on Friday. (Wish me luck for when I get to the letter X by the way!).

My author newsletter will also be going out later this week so if you would like to sign up for that, do head over to my landing page at https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com

 

Hope you’ve had a good Saturday. I’ve spent the day mowing the lawn, playing ball with the dog (and while mowing the lawn too – it is quite a sight!), washing, ironing, cooking etc. Now it’s writing time. I am one of those writers who can only relax into writing when I know the major things of the day are behind me.

So could I procrastinate with doing “essential” jobs while putting off doing any writing? Not really. I do have a saving grace here – I loathe housework! There is no way I’m using that as an excuse not to write! If anything the opposite is true in that I get the dreaded chores done as soon as I can to expand my writing time.

And talking of writing, I am glad to say I now have an author bio up on the Friday Flash Fiction site under their Authors section. See the link and screenshot. Also, a big thanks to all for the comments in on my new story here, A Picture Paints A Hundred Words.

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

It doesn’t take long to become addicted to writing flash fiction. I found after writing my first 100 word piece, I wanted to see if I could do it again (partly to prove to myself it wasn’t a fluke I think). Then I wanted to do another, then another, and then I tried to write to 50 words and then again to 500, and on to the upper limit of 1000 and all kinds of word counts in between. All great fun!

It has been lovely getting back to the drabble for Friday Flash Fiction especially since writing to that length was my way into flash fiction in the first place. There’s a pleasing symmetry to that I think.

So be warned! Flash can prove surprisingly addictive for such a short form of writing. I also wanted to explore (and still do) what kinds of characters would work well in such a tiny tale, whether I could write linked flashes (where the same character turns up in more than one story) and so on. Always plenty to try here and that too is part of the charm of flash fiction.

Allison Symes - Flash Fiction Collections

It’s Monday. It has been hectic (and stormy here in my part of the world). Definitely time for a story I think. Hope you enjoy my latest on YouTube – Many Happy Returns.

Interesting thought for a writing prompt here. Anniversaries, birthdays and the like can be sad or happy or a mixture of both, depending on exact circumstances. Is there a special day for a character of yours? What would be the story behind that being a special day? Does your character change their views on a special day and, if so why? Can other characters help them to see things more positively where that might be needed? Hmm…story ideas there I’m sure – good luck!

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The challenge of writing to a specific word count (such as my drabbles for Friday Flash Fiction) is also in making sure that I am getting the maximum impact from my story. Every one of those one hundred words has to punch its weight to justify its place in my tale. This is where I admit I love it when the title is not included in the overall word count. I can use that title to give extra nuances and indicate the likely mood of the story without using up my “allowance”.

Ironically my story this week on Friday Flash Fiction is one of my rarer stories with a fairly long title – A Picture Paints a Hundred Words. I used that one because it is a play on the usual phrase (it’s usually a thousand words but I wanted to play on the fact the drabble is only one hundred words long. Because a standard phrase is being subverted a little bit here, that will help make it more memorable. My favourite word counts for titles are usually between one to four words. They’re even easier to remember as a rule.

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Goodreads Author Blog – The Good Old Paperback

The good old paperback has long been my favourite book format. Easier to carry around than a hardback (and certainly less damaging if you drop it on your foot!). That love was intensified when my own flash fiction collections came out in good old paperback! Okay, I’m biased but it is a good reason to be biased!

The first paperbacks I remember buying were the Famous Five books by Enid Blyton in the days when you could buy books from your local newsagent. Southern TV had been adapting the books and of course the publishers brought out the books in an edition to match the TV series.

I then bought my own paperback of Pride and Prejudice by the wonderful Jane Austen. Later I went on to the paperbacks of the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett and the P.G. Wodehouse books (though I haven’t got all of those. Still it gives me something to aim for!). All a joy to buy and to read and re-read (a sign of a good book is that is it one you can always re-read).

Which paperbacks are your favourites and why? Are there any you regret buying? (Sometimes you can find the answer to that one by looking at the books given to charity shops. Every so often a book is a big hit and then it just drops out of favour and ends up in said charity shops!).

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Inspiration and Grouping Stories


Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated (and many created in Book Brush using Pixabay photos). Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes.
I look at inspiration and grouping stories for collections this week, as well as have a look at what led to me creating this week’s YouTube story. 

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Facebook – General

Another mixed bag on the weather front today. Sunshine, strong winds, and rain. There’s bound to be something there someone will like!

Looking forward to going to the Association of Christian Writers Golden Jubilee weekend very soon. I’m running my flash fiction workshop there. I’ll be back at The Hayes, Swanwick. When I get back from that, I’ll need to think about booking my train tickets to go back there again (!) for The Swanwick Writers’ Summer School in August. Hold the revolving door…!

Am running the ACW Flash Fiction Group Zoom meeting tomorrow. Always great fun and lots of information and tips shared. Online groups are a real blessing.

I hope to write up for CFT a report on my recent workshop at the London Jesuit Centre and the ACW one in June in due course but this week’s post really will be on Reading, Rhythms, and Resolutions in Fiction. Link up on Friday for that.

Many thanks also for the views in so far on Beach Life – Maybe which is my latest tale/tail on YouTube.
Link to video further down, taster pic below!

Screenshot 2022-05-24 at 20-08-42 Beach Life Maybe - YouTube

Hope you have had a good Monday. Quote of the day from my desk calendar is “A dog is a smile and a waging tail. What is in between doesn’t matter much.”. Sums Lady up nicely!

I was back using the old random generators yesterday. I’ve created two stories based on the premise of “pet peeves”. I’ll be sharing one of those stories on YouTube over on my book page shortly. I must admit though this was a great topic to write about and cathartic too! Definitely a case of writing about what you know too.

And the great thing about using that topic for flash fiction? You can’t go on for too long either!

You could think about the kind of pet peeves your characters would have and why they have those ones. What is the story behind that? There is always a reason for a peeve so can you get a tale out of that? It’s worth a go!

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Glad to say the May issue of Mom’s Favorite Reads is now FREE on Amazon – see the link for more. (Below).

Now this time I have got things right for flagging up my next post on Chandler’s Ford Today. This coming Friday’s post really will be called Reading, Rhythms, and Resolutions in Fiction!

Am currently putting the finishing touches to my flash fiction workshop for the Association of Christian Writers Golden Jubilee weekend at The Hayes, Swanwick, in early June. Talking of ACW, I’m also looking forward to its Flash Fiction group meeting this coming Wednesday, which I’ll be leading. Zoom has been a lifeline over the last two years and, for groups like ACW, it has made certain things possible.

For ACW, this has meant being able to have genre based groups where the members cannot possibly get together in person. One very positive thing to come out of the pandemic!

 

A lovely Saturday here in Hampshire.

Many thanks for the lovely comments coming in on my poignant Another Birthday, my latest tale on Friday Flash Fiction. All much appreciated. I don’t always sympathize with my characters but I do here.

I do always know where my characters are coming from and why but nobody says I necessarily have to agree with “their” conclusions. That is a mercy I think for any writer because do you really want to agree with your villains or those characters who are on the “selfish” end of the spectrum? I think not!

 

Facebook – From Light To Dark And Back Again

My inspiration for yesterday’s tale on YouTube, Beach Life – Maybe, (video below) came from a random generator which triggered the question about pet peeves. No problems coming up with a story based on that!

Taking that idea further, think about what your lead character’s pet peeve might be. Focus on just the one.

How would that peeve affect their attitude and behaviour? What would it make them do that anyone else would think odd or just not worth bothering about? Could you get a comic tale out of it, for example? Why not jot down some ideas about what a pet peeve could lead to and see what that could take a character?

AE - March 2022 - Lateral thinking encouraged


Time for a story – well it has been a long Monday so why not? Hope you enjoy my latest on YouTube, Beach Life -Maybe. I have every sympathy with my character, Basil, here.

When I give a talk on flash fiction, I am always keen to share why practicing it regularly helps with whatever other kinds of writing you do.

I’ve found the editing and writing to a tight word count are aspects I’ve carried across into my blogging, for example. It could also be argued a lot of my smaller blogs would count as flash non-fiction anyway (usual word count for that is 500 words to 1000).

Also knowing I am writing to a small word count encourages me to make even more use of those tiny pockets of time that would otherwise be lost. I know I can draft something useful in five or ten minutes to be added to and edited later on. The writing I can get done in that time will be developed further so there is every point in getting it down on paper/on screen.

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The nice thing about any good book is it can take you into different worlds (sci-fi and fantasy etc) and times (historical/futuristic) and so on. With story collections (short stories and flash ones), you can go into different worlds with each story or flash piece you read and all within the cover of one book.

That is what I love about reading flash collections in particular and one element I appreciated when I was putting my first two books together. I love the mixture and often I will use a flash piece or a short story that has especially gripped me to help me decide which novel I want to read next. If I was gripped by a short crime tale, I am likely to make my next novel read a crime one.

What is interesting is when it comes to grouping your short stories or flash pieces in your collection. Do you do this by genre or by mood or by linked characters etc? I do tend to keep linked character stories together as it stressed to the reader these are meant to be linked and I haven’t used the same one again by accident.

Otherwise, I go with mood. I like to read a few darker tales, then I want something to lighten the mood for a bit and so on. I also like to keep in mind what I think my Ideal Reader would prefer. Once I’ve got a rough running order together, I go through the book again to make sure it does work the way I think it will.

Sometimes I find I have to adjust again to make the stories flow better into one another but that’s fine. It’s an interesting aspect to editing and one I enjoy. It feels good when you know you’ve got the running order right and the stories flow seamlessly into one another, creating the impact you want in your readers.

Goodreads Author Blog – The Best Times for Reading

Do you have a preferred reading time? My book reading tends to be reserved for bedtime. Am currently loving dipping into a huge book by Classic FM of classical music facts and figures (the people as well as the musical numbers!). I love reading magazines (especially writing ones) while having my lunch. As for holidays and travelling on trains etc., the Kindle comes into its own.

I like to mix up books and magazines, short stories/flash collections and novels, print reading and electronic reading. I like to see it as keeping my hand in!

But the best time for reading is really any time you can. What does reading do for us?

Well, it entertains, it educates, it takes us away from our troubles for a while, and we can explore this world. We can explore other worlds and worlds which might exist in a parallel universe.

We can go back in time thanks to historical works (fiction and non-fiction) and we can go forward as well thanks to science fiction. We can follow real people’s lives in biographical works and made-up people’s lives across the wonderful vastness of the fictional genres.

Writers take in what works in stories as they try to write their own.

Characters reflect what we know about ourselves. It can be eye opening at times too.

Screenshot 2022-05-24 at 20-50-33 The Best Times for ReadingBookBrushImage-2022-5-23-21-3411

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Crossing Fiction and Non-Fiction

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.

Many thanks to Wendy H Jones and Gill James/Bridge House Publishing for book cover images as part of my Chandler’s Ford Today post this week. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes. Images of me signing my contract re my contribution to a non-fiction book were taken by Adrian Symes. It is SO helpful having a significant other who can take photos like that for me! Not that easy to do it yourself.

Has been a hot week here in Hampshire. Have appreciated my swims this week. For once, the water felt refreshing rather than perishing cold!

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Facebook – General and Chandler’s Ford Today

Pleased to share Local Author News – Allison Symes – Crossing Fiction and Non-Fiction as my Chandler’s Ford Today post this week. I take the chance to give an update on what has happened/is about to happen with my fiction and non-fiction writing.

This includes two books and writing for an American online magazine. So there has been lots going on over the last few months! And more Zoom talks have taken place, with another one due at the end of the month. I’ll also have further news to share later on in the year and am looking forward to being able to do that.

Mind you, I am looking forward to going back to the local theatre company next week and being able to review their shows for CFT again. Have so missed seeing The Chameleons in action on the stage, Their productions are wonderfully done.

Local Author News – Allison Symes – Crossing Fiction and Non-Fiction

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Another hot day. Another day of Lady taking it easy and cool.

Will be sharing what’s going on in my writing world this summer with my local author news post for Chandler’s Ford Today this week. Link up tomorrow. See above.

Writing for CFT has taught me so much.

  1. Writing to a deadline.
  2. Writing to a word count. (Up to 1500, as my posts are articles rather than blogs as such, here).
  3. Working out questions for other authors so the interview ends up being an enlightening conversation full of useful tips and advice for other writers.
  4. Coming up with ideas week by week.
  5. Thinking laterally where I need to for both article ideas and suitable Pixabay photos to illustrate my posts.
  6. Discovering what’s going on in my local area with things like The Chameleon Theatre Group and learning to produce reviews with interesting background information on the play being performed, its author(s), and often both.
  7. Working out what would be a good non-fiction story to write up for CFT.
  8. My responding to comments and engaging with readers has come on a lot since writing for CFT!
  9. Thinking about my target audience here and actively engaging with articles designed to entertain them (with the odd local news author post about me for a little publicity for yours truly).
  10. Learning to plan ahead, schedule my posts, and where possible write things in advance so I know I have post all ready at least a week ahead.

So a huge thanks to CFT editor, #JanetWilliams, for having the vision behind the website. The idea was to bring Chandler’s Ford people together and it has but it has gone beyond that. There is a reasonably sized writing community in and around our area so the magazine has been able to engage with that audience too. And I have had the odd gig from it – the Hursley Park Book Fair a couple of years ago where I met #HelenMatthews, whom I recently interviewed, and also getting to take part in other local book fairs. Will be so nice to have those back again but watch this space as they say.


Another sweltering day here in Hampshire but Lady and I are managing to keep our cool.

Just to say the paperback of Tripping the Flash Fantastic is currently on offer on Amazon. To find out more head here – http://mybook.to/TrippingFlashFantastic

Looking forward to seeing The Chameleon Theatre Group back on stage for the first time in well over 15 months in just over a week’s time. Review to come in due course for Chandler’s Ford Today but I do like reviewing their shows. Over a year, there is a varied programme and every show makes for a wonderful evening’s entertainment. Good to see some normality back.

Chapeltown Books - consistency matters

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again


I was chatting on here yesterday (see below) about titles being the first hook for the reader. The important thing is to make sure your fabulous title isn’t the only one. The story has to live up to the promise of its title for a start (otherwise you won’t get repeat readers).

So what you are also after then are an intriguing character, a cracking opening line ensuring your reader simply has to read on, and a satisfactory ending. The ending must suit the character and type of story. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a happy ending.

See what you make of my ending to my latest story on #Friday Flash Fiction called Missing. Is it happy?


Screenshot 2021-07-23 at 17-16-56 Missing, by Allison Symes

It was great talking to the Association of Christian Writers Flash Fiction Group last night, all thanks to the wonders of Zoom. I took the topic of titles for this month’s meeting and looked at different ideas for finding inspiration for these.

Titles can do a lot of “heavy lifting” in flash as they can indicate mood and genre without you having to spell things out in the story itself. So it is well worth getting these right. I often find I come up with better title ideas as I write my tale though I need something as a marker or peg to get me started.

And from a writer’s viewpoint, the title is the first hook for your reader. You want to hook them right there.

 

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Looking forward to the Association of Christian Writers Flash Fiction Group meeting online tonight. It is always a joy to talk about flash.

Once you get over the idea of the restricted word count, you find there is more flexibility with the form than you might think. Not only can you write across genres, there is the possibility of writing your stories as poetic tales, acrostics, in diary format – all sorts of things as long as you don’t cross 1000 words. All great fun to do too.

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Fairytales with Bite – Animal Transformations

Animal transformations often crop up in fairytales but usually because some arrogant so-and-so has annoyed a powerful wizard, fairy godmother, or witch in disguise and have paid the price for doing so. See Beauty and the Beast for more on that!

But what could your magical beings do if they could change into animals? What would they choose to turn into and why?

Is there a price to pay for being able to transform like this? One idea there would be to have the transformation weaken them in some way so they would think twice about using the skill. You could then force your character into working out when they should use it and what other ways they could use to get them out of a situation where the animal transformation might have been useful but is not worth doing because it costs them dearly.

And is there resentment from those who can’t do animal transformations against those who can? What kind of conflict could that lead to?

I suppose if I could transform I would want to be able to fly so I’d probably look at becoming a bird. (I know I wouldn’t want to become an insect – far too much risk of being eaten!).

 

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This World and Others – What Makes Your World Stand Out?

What makes your fictional world something you want to write up? What would its appeal be to a reader? What would they identify with? What would they find strange (or at least strange compared to life here on Earth which in itself can be strange at times!).

Is it the setting that grabs your attention or the characters? What can you do with the characters in your setting that you could not do if they were based here?

Asking questions is a great way of working out a rough template for your creation and to iron out any issues early on. It pays you to work out what you need to know and, as you write your first draft, jot down things you discover you might need to research later. For example, if your created world does not have water, what could your inhabitants drink instead?

And especially if you’re thinking of a series of books, it would pay to keep a “biography” of your world so you have to hand what you need to know when you draft Book 2, Book 27 etc.

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