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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The Writing Life, Schedules, and Fact or 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. The autumnal weather has really set in here in the UK. I look ahead this time to a flash fiction workshop I’m running, discuss the writing life, including when work is turned down, and ask if you like fact or fiction or both.

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Facebook – General

Am looking forward to running a flash fiction workshop for Elgin Writers via Zoom tomorrow night.

As well as my Chandler’s Ford Today post coming up on Friday, I’ll also be blogging for More than Writers, the blog spot for the Association of Christian Writers. Link to that is due to go up on Thursday. I’ll be looking at Seasons of Mist and Mellow Fruitfulness for that one and the impact of this on writers.

For the various blogs I write for, I work out a writing schedule so I draft my pieces in good time. Again, as with my fiction, I give myself enough time to edit properly before submitting the posts. It pays to do that. Often I have had useful additional ideas to strengthen a piece on having another look through my original draft.

You have to give your imagination time to work. And imagination still comes into play with non-fiction writing, even if it is a case of asking myself have I presented the information in the best way possible? Sometimes changing a bit of the running order can help something I’ve said stand out more so creativity I think comes into play there.

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Hope you have had a good start to the working week. Strange weather here today – sunny, blustery, windy, cold – a right old mix. Not that Lady cared. She got to see her Hungarian Vizler pal again today so she (and her pal) were happy.

For Chandler’s Ford Today this week, I’m looking at the topic of Favourites. I wanted, after a rightly more thoughtful piece last week, to show that reflection can have its positive side too. I enjoyed my trip down Memory Lane for this week’s post and hope you do too as I look at favourite books, films, sweets etc. As ever comments are very welcome in the CFT box. Link up on Friday.

Heard today my flash story didn’t make it on to the listings for The Bridport Prize. At some point, I’ll take another look at my entry, see what I can do to improve it, and submit it somewhere else. I’ve mentioned before I have gone on to have work published doing this.

Rejection doesn’t have to be the final word. It can be the chance to polish a piece of work up and try it out there in the big bad world once more. (Incidentally I’m sure I’ve heard later than usual for this – I hope that means something positive!).

I have found you get more used to this kind of thing and that helps. It is all part and parcel of the writing life. Having been on the other side of the judging rostrum, I know it isn’t easy for judges to make their selections. And that’s how it should be. The stories should be as good as possible.

And there is nothing to stop you submitting the piece elsewhere. Another judge may think differently about your work but do take the chance to review your story before sending it out again. I’ve found ways of strengthening a piece when I’ve done this and I’m sure that is what has led to the story then going on to be accepted elsewhere.

 

Many thanks for the comments coming in on Good For Something, my latest tale on Friday Flash Fiction. Feedback is very welcome and the support from the writing community on this website is great. Do check it out.

Every writer needs some sort of affirmation that their writing is hitting the right note with readers. We know we’re not going to please all of the people all of the time. Nobody does that. What we’re after is knowing we are pleasing someone! So it is a joy to receive feedback and I enjoy giving feedback too.

There is nobody like another writer who will understand the ups and downs of the writing life. Added reason to go to writing groups, courses etc and meet up with other writers. I’ve made many friends this way (bless you, all!) and I hope to continue making other writer pals along my own writing journey.

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

Today would have been the 62nd wedding anniversary of my parents. Do you use special dates in your fiction at all?

I’ve sometimes written stories involving a birthday. I ought to try and do more with anniversaries as that can cover all manner of things – weddings obviously but also the anniversary of when you met someone special, a historical event and so on.

Also your characters can give a date meaning so stories could be found from exploring that meaning and whether your character treasures it or dreads it but can’t avoid it.

You can also use a a date as a deadline for your characters and put time pressure on them. Okay not so dramatic as a countdown in minutes but you could give them less than 24 hours to achieve something.

You could also think about something that makes a date special for you but would have not meaning to anyone else and try the same kind of thing with your characters. The date can be their driving force to do something because…. Fill in the blanks!

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Hope you have had a good day. Lady and I got a bit of a soaking (I say bit because it could have been worse!) earlier. Not that she worries – one good shake off her coat and she’s done (according to her anyway!).

Looking forward to giving my flash fiction workshop to Elgin Writers via Zoom tomorrow night. I often read a couple of my flash tales as part of things like this. The best way to show what flash is, and can be capable of doing in terms of impact on a reader, is to read some.

Often when I am at the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School, it take the opportunity of picking up flash collections there to add to my own reading list. Love reading them and I learn a lot from them myself.

You do need to read widely but I would also say you need to read in your genre as well as out of it. Best of all, it’s fun and I find doing this inspiriting. There is never a time when being inspired is ever a bad idea (at least not when it comes to reading books and stories!).

 

It’s Monday. It’s been a blustery day weather wise. It’s getting darker earlier. We haven’t even turned the clocks back yet here in the UK. Definitely time for a story and here is my latest on YouTube. Hope you enjoy Glad to Get Away. Members of the ACW Flash Fiction Group may recognize this as this tale is based on an exercise I set last week based on the closing line.

 

One of the joys of leading the Association of Christian Writers Flash Fiction group is setting exercises. Usually I prepare my “answers” in advance to give an example of what can be done with the topic I’ve been talking about. I’ve found having examples has helped me a lot when someone has set a writing exercise for me. It gives you a kind of rough route map and I’ve always found that useful. I then get on with a draft knowing I am heading in the right kind of direction. I don’t want to be “way out” on this.

This time I did something different (and it will certainly be something I will do again). This time I set the exercises but didn’t prepare my answers. I wrote “live” when the others at the group did so we all had rough drafts to take with us and work up into something. So I have a few drafts to work on which will be fun to do.

Time away

Don’t forget I issue an author newsletter on the first of the month where I share tips (many of them as relevant to flash fiction as to standard length short stories), links to my flash stories, and so on. If you’d like to sign up head over to my landing page at https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com – would be glad to have you aboard!

Just occasionally when I set an opening line writing exercise or respond to one, I come up with a line which makes a story all by itself. Those are great for sharing on Twitter. Sometimes I go on to extend the story out but it is lovely to have the choice here.

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Goodreads Author Blog – Fact or Fiction?

A good book is a good book regardless of whether it is factual or not. I was late to the party when it comes to reading non-fiction but I am glad I’ve discovered the form, I’m also fond of those stories which are based on truth – historical fiction is wonderful for this. I was sorry to hear of the death of Dame Hilary Mantel. I loved Wolf Hall.

The best non-fiction books often read as if they could be a novel (and this is where creative non-fiction is a genre I definitely want to read more of). The irony here though is that fiction can share truths which non-fiction cannot because those truths can’t be “scientifically” verified.

I love it when a character “rings true” and I can put myself in their stead and think yes I would’ve done that too. Of course you sometimes come across a character where you almost want to shout at them “don’t do that”. That’s the fun of fiction though! You can get behind the characters. You don’t necessarily need to agree with all they say and do.

The best non-fiction will show you aspects of a historical character you might not have considered before. The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey is fiction but it is a rare example, for me, of doing just that for Richard III.

Screenshot 2022-09-27 at 21-08-13 Fact or Fiction

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Getting Together With Other Writers and Book Shelf Joys

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, as were most of the pictures from the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School. A big thanks to Jennifer C Wilson for sharing the picture of the triumphant Prosecco Queens!
Hope you have had a good start to your week. In my part of the world there has been a bank holiday so I will probably spend the rest of the week reminding myself just what day is it?! It is a common phenomenon! 

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Facebook – General

Hope you have had a good Tuesday. I know I’ll be a day “out” for most of the week, given we’ve had a bank holiday in my part of the world. Scary thought is the next one isn’t until Christmas!

Many thanks for the great comments coming in on my More Than Writers blog for the Association of Christian Writers yesterday. My topic of Getting Together with Other Writers clearly hit a chord or several! Link below.

Will be sending my next author newsletter out on Thursday. To sign up just head over to my website (landing page) at https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com

There is also an offer on the paperback of Tripping the Flash Fantastic over on Amazon at the moment – do see the link at https://mybook.to/TrippingFlashFantastic

Screenshot 2022-08-30 at 20-01-13 Tripping the Flash Fantastic eBook Symes Allison Amazon.co.uk Kindle Store

More Than Writers

It’s my turn on the More than Writers blog (Association of Christian Writers blog spot). This time I talk about Getting Together with Other Writers and the benefits of this. If you are thinking this can’t be a coincidence given Allison has recently got back from the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School, you’d be spot on! Hope you enjoy the post and find it useful.

Screenshot 2022-08-29 at 08-21-46 Getting Together With Other Writers by Allison Symes

I’ll be looking at Author Newsletters for Chandler’s Ford Today next week. Apt since my next one is due out next week too! I’ll be looking at why authors have them and what I do with my one. Link up on Friday.

I’m also busy preparing some interview questions for two great writers for Chandler’s Ford Today and I hope to be able to tell you more about these next month.

Am also going to be setting my next flash fiction challenge soon for Mom’s Favorite Reads, the October edition. I have to work a month in advance here but if you want to find out more about MFR, you can do so here. (You can also check out the latest magazine for free here too – go on, have a great read, you know you want to!).Screenshot 2022-08-28 at 16-57-51 Mom's Favorite ReadsHope you have had a good Saturday. Many thanks for the lovely comments coming in on Facebook re my Looking Back at Swanwick 2022 for Chandler’s Ford Today which I shared yesterday. It was a fabulous week.

Also thanks for the comments coming in on Fitting In on Friday Flash Fiction. If you missed the story, you can find it at the link here.

Am busy getting my author newsletter ready. Hard to believe we’re almost in September. If you would like to sign up for tips, stories and more please do head over to the landing page of my website at https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com

Am rediscovering the joys of seeing what is on my Kindle. Am currently reading Churchill’s Wizards, which is proving a fascinating read so far. It is about the art of subterfuge etc carried out during the war. I’m a fairly late convert to the joys of non-fiction reading (and this one I would say comes into the creative non-fiction category given the way it is told). Definitely a case of better late than never though!

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

I see Writing Magazine are having their Grand Flash Fiction prize competition again. I entered last year, didn’t get anywhere, but reworked my story and I hope it will form part of my third flash fiction collection in due course. I will probably have a go at the competition again this year.

It is a good thing to enter competitions as they help you get used to writing to a deadline and in actually sending a piece of work off somewhere. Too easy to sit on a piece of work for too long.

I don’t enter every single flash fiction competition. I’m glad to say there are far too many of them for that to be possible but at least it does mean there is plenty to choose from out there! Always check the competition rules thoroughly. Check out the credentials of those running the competition as well.

Also the prize on offer should reflect fairly the charge you’re being asked to pay. With a novel competition, for example, I would expect to pay a fair amount (usually circa the £25 mark) because a judge will be reading your book and to an extent your fee is paying something towards their time, which is only fair.

Good luck with any competitions you’re entering. Give yourself plenty of time to draft, rest a story, edit it thoroughly etc. And have fun writing the tale – it should be fun.

Plenty of competitions for the short form

If you’ve had a bank holiday today (as I have), I hope you’ve enjoyed it. Having said that, it is still a Monday and it’s definitely time for a story! Hope you enjoy The Guest.


I love setting the flash fiction challenge for Mom’s Favorite Reads (look out for the next issue due next week by the way) and part of my column gives my own response to the challenge I’ve set. A great way to keep me on my toes, I can say! I also get more flash written so win-win there.

I do like mixing up how I approach writing flash and this is yet another reason to use the random generators. They make me think outside my usual box and that encourages further creativity in me. It can do the same for you, honest, give them a go.

You can also combine results from random generators to create more stories. I did this recently for the Lift Up Your Pens session I took at the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School. I hope to do more of that too.

About to run a workshop on editing at Swanwick


I love mixing up writing in the first and third person over the span of a flash fiction collection. The immediacy of the first person makes it an ideal match for flash writing but I also love the third person where a named character shows you their story. I like being able to set my characters wherever and when I want. I can dip a toe into my favourite genres here. So despite the word count restriction, flash is remarkably flexible.

It’s also easy to share and perfect for Open Mic Nights. I don’t know if Radio 2 still have their schools competition for a 500 words story. I hope they do. It’s a great way into creative writing.

It is one of those ironies in fiction that limits fuel creativity rather than stifle it because you are made to work with what you have got. You learn to think about better ways of phrasing sentences so you make the most of your word count. And you’re never afraid of editing again which is a good thing. I happily stamp all over my darlings when I must (see what I did there!).

Have lost all fear of editing

Goodreads Author Blog – Book Shelf Joys

One of the great pleasures of being a writer as well as a reader is getting to buy books brought out by your writing friends and having them sign them for you.

I have plenty of those on a special shelf and it gives me great joy whenever I walk past it. I look at the books on there and happy memories come flooding back, (for instance of times spent with said writing friends at the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School).

Another shelf bringing me joy holds the books I inherited from my late mother (hardback copies of Dickens amongst many others). As for the shelves that give me a distinct case of the giggles, well those hold the works of P.G, Wodehouse and Terry Pratchett. Then there is the shelf containing hardback works by Agatha Christie, the first set of books I collected as an adult.

Books have meaning well beyond the stories they contain – and I love that too.

Having said that, the ebook very much has its place here. I’m rediscovering the joys of finding out just what is on my Kindle and am currently reading Churchill’s Wizards, a fascinating non-fiction book.
So which book shelves have special meaning for you? It is the meaning that makes the shelf special.

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Zest in Fiction, Advice to a New Writer and Publication News

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 are all okay. Great week here as I have further publication news to share. The buzz of being published never diminishes! Given the writing life is full of ups and downs, it is lovely when the “ups” arrive!

Facebook – General – Chandler’s Ford Today and More Than Writers

29th July 2022 – Chandler’s Ford Today
I don’t know where the last 26 weeks have gone but I wrap up my In Fiction series for CFT this week with Zest In Fiction. I celebrate the joys of zestful writing and look at ways we can keep our enthusiasm for writing going when all we seem to receive are the “pips” rather than the zest of creative writing itself. Every writer goes through it – and more than once too.

I also look at how the discipline or writing regularly can help with keeping that zestful spirit going. I know it sounds a bit of a contradiction but it isn’t. See the post for why.

Many thanks for the comments in already on this one.

Zest In Fiction

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29th July 2022 – More than Writers, the blog spot for the Association of Christian Writers

It’s a busy day on the blog spot today. My second post tonight is to share my latest blog post on More Than Writers. This month I talk about Advice to a New Writer.

Do you agree with my suggestions? What would you add to the list? I also think I’ve found the cutest ever teacup for this post – as you do. Head over and see what you think.
Screenshot 2022-07-29 at 09-15-25 Advice to a New Writer by Allison SymesTwo blogs out tomorrow – Chandler’s Ford Today where I’ll be looking at Zest In Fiction and More Than Writers where I’ll look at Advice to a New Writer. The latter is my monthly spot for the Association of Christian Writers. Links above.

Talking of whom, it was great fun on the ACW Flash Fiction group last night – many thanks to those who came to it.

Writing Tip: Don’t forget you can use things like the random theme and question generators to trigger ideas for non-fiction posts as well as for fiction.

Having a quick look at a random theme one, the topic of innocence came up.

For fiction, you an always write about a framed character or where someone’s innocence is questionable.

For non-fiction, you could look at how the idea of innocent until proven guilty underpins the criminal justice system and how that came about. You could also look at a historical figure’s innocence (Richard III is a key figure here, as is Anne Boleyn).

A quick search on the random question generator I use came up with the topic of What’s your favourite book?

Now that can make a direct non-fiction post as you look into why you’ve chosen the one you have (and a bit of history about the book itself would be a nice addition here).

For fiction, you could invent a book for your character to treasure and show how that affects their actions and reactions to events around them.

AE - March 2022 - random generators encourage you to ask questions about your characters

Hope you have had a good day. Am about to host the monthly meeting of the Association of Christian Writers Flash Fiction group. Always good fun. Zoom is a wonderful thing!

Many thanks for the support shown with the announcement yesterday concerning The Best of CafeLit 11. It is good to be “between the covers” with friends once again!

Last not but least. Don’t forget I send out my monthly newsletter on the first of each month so another one is due soon. To sign up head over to my website (landing page) at https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

It’s Friday. It’s Friday Flash Fiction time. My latest story here is called Moving On. Hope you enjoy it. (Also fabulous to see some familiar names on here this week – well done, all!).

Screenshot 2022-07-29 at 09-28-29 Moving On by Allison Symes

Hope you have had a good day. Very pleasant with the French windows open and enjoying the evening sun.

How do you evoke atmosphere in a flash tale given you haven’t got the word count room to go into much detail? It is a question I think of choosing the one detail to focus on here. For example if I wanted to show a stormy night, I would probably show a character looking out of their house, moaning about the guttering overflowing while watching the trees swaying.

Specific details are more useful in painting the right image in your reader’s mind. Given my example above, I wouldn’t need to say that leaves were coming off the trees because people already know that happens when a storm brews up. They’d expect twigs, small branches etc to be flying about too.

The reader just needs to know the storm is happening and the guttering overflowing and the trees swaying are enough details to give them that picture.

So choose what you think a reader absolutely has to know and then consider what detail can best convey that. The rest can be implied (which is flash fiction’s great strength).

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Thrilled to be in print once again with The Best of CafeLit 11 out yesterday. Will have some nice admin to do on this such as ordering my copies, getting it added to my Amazon Author Central page, ALCS, Goodreads and so on.

About to head off to run a flash fiction group for the Association of Christian Writers. Always fun and we all learn a lot from this. I especially encourage sharing market news given no one author can know it all so if you have the chance to take part in groups in your genre, go for it. You may well learn loads, and have lots of fun. Win-win. You get to write more flash as well for the flash group I lead.

 

Fairytales with Bite – Transformations

The fairytales have plenty of transformations from arrogant princes into beasts and suspiciously bright red applies into something nasty and so on. There is always a good reason behind them. In the first case, the arrogant prince needed cutting down to size. In the second, the wicked stepmother wanted to poison Snow White. Nobody said a transformation necessarily had to be for a good reason.

So with that in mind, think about what or whom you want to be transformed in your stories. What is the reason? How are the transformations going to happen? Does magic necessarily have to be involved? Can whatever is being transformed be restored to what they were again?

Where the transformation is a positive one, how does that go on to affect the character’s life? Do others around them welcome the change?

Not everyone would. Especially if someone has come out from someone else’s control, there will be one character definitely unhappy at the change! What would they try to to to reverse the situation and do they succeed? Or are they transformed too? If so how? What makes them see the error of their ways?

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This World and Others – Changing the Guard

In your setting, how would regime change happen? Revolution or reform? Who or what is the catalyst for this? I must admit I prefer reform generally because fewer people get hurt. Does your fictional world learn from its own history or does it make the same mistakes time and again?

The old saying about not throwing the baby out with the bath water comes into mind here. When it comes to changing the guard, are there aspects a new ruler or system of government would want to retain (or copy and adapt for its own use)? And how do the “ordinary” people take to the changes being imposed on them? They are rarely asked about these things in advance!

Where changing the guard is a good thing, what system of government or ruler had to go first? And does the change of regime delivery on its promises to make things better for the people?

Changing the guard can be a good or bad thing – so much depends on perspective. What would your character’s perspective be?

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Publication News, Flash Fiction, and Impact

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.
Am thrilled to be in print again in new release, The Best of CafeLit 11. More details below. The thrill of being published does not dim!

 

Facebook – General

26th July 2022 – Publication News – The Best of CafeLit 11
Am thrilled to say The Best of CafeLit 11 is now out. I have a story in here, Flying Too High. I love collections like these, even when I’m not in them, as they’re a great way to try out authors new to you. You also get a real mix of stories and moods too.

I am also thrilled about this for another reason – I am on the front cover as one of the editors. Each editor had a month or two to work on but naturally did not edit our own work.

You never want to do that anyway. Why? Because you really do need another pair of eyes to assess what you have written. You are too close to your own work to be able to judge objectively. But it is lovely be on the front cover as an editor for the first time. It was a joy to work on this book and to be in it.

Many congratulations to the other writers in this new collection. It is always wonderful to know you have work in a book out! And it will be lovely to celebrate in person with you later in the year – I do hope you can get to the celebration event. Always good to meet up with old friends and make new ones here.

 

Hope you have had a good Monday. Not bad here. Lady got to see one of her best pals, the lovely Hungarian Vizler. Good time had by both, especially now the air is much cooler.

Will be sharing Zest In Fiction for Chandler’s Ford Today on Friday. I’ll also be talking about Advice to A New Writer for More Than Writers, the blog spot for the Association of Christian Writers again on Friday. Will put up separate posts with links. I know – no blogs for ages and then two come along at once.#

My current story on Friday Flash Fiction, called Tomorrow, is loosely based on real experience though I will say I haven’t done a sky jump. Nor do I intend to – the birds have enough to contend with in the skies without strange women jumping out at them – and I hope that has got you wondering. Story link here.


Screenshot 2022-07-22 at 09-05-01 Tomorrow by Allison Symes


Am enjoying writing with my French windows open now we’ve got a decent breeze to go with it. Most refreshing. I must admit I did find things pretty hard going on Tuesday when we had a record breaking high temperature in my part of the world.

I felt sluggish and it was hard to focus (except on thinking things like this is too hot, is the dog okay etc etc!). And yes Lady was fine but she is much happier now things have cooled down a bit. I do always drink plenty of water by the way which does help with concentration but on Tuesday I think it was a question you couldn’t drink enough of it to overcome the wave of heat that hit most of us here in the UK.

Will have two blogs out next week. My Chandler’s Ford Today weekly one will be out on Friday as usual. It will also be my turn on More Than Writers, the blog for the Association of Christian Writers, again on Friday. I write for them on the 29th of each month so this means I get every three Februaries off! So must remember to do a double Facebook post on Friday.

So looking forward to Swanwick next month and the Bridge House Publishing event in December. Had been looking forward to going to see our local theatre group’s summer production but they have had to cancel unfortunately. I hope to get along to their autumn show though (and before we know it, it will then be panto time again!).

Writing Tip: Every so often go through your old notebooks and look at exercises you took part in during conferences etc. Revise those stories and see if you can submit them. I’ve done this and had work published that way but I also know it is far too easy to forget what is in your notebooks.

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Hope you have had a good Saturday so far.

It’s hard to believe I’m almost at the end of my In Fiction series for Chandler’s Ford Today. Next week I’ll be looking at Zest In Fiction. Where did 26 weeks go?!

I sometimes use the random generators for ideas for topics for posts. The random question and theme ones are great for this.

For example, a random theme I generated a moment ago came up with the idea of sliver of hope. I can immediately think of some fiction ideas for that but for a blog, I could write a factual piece about where a sliver of hope changed the life of a famous historical character. Or even speculate where it might have done had it happened – two sides of the same coin there basically.

A random question I just generated came up with If you lost all of your possessions but one, what would you want it to be?

Interesting question and this could make a great article simply by my answering this myself.

So for non-fiction fans, the random generators can be useful for you too.

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Many thanks for the views coming in on my latest YouTube tale, Enough Is Enough. If you would like to subscribe to my channel, you can do so at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCPCiePD4p_vWp4bz2d80SJA – new subscribers are always welcome.

I usually post a new tale here once a week unless I’m away, ill etc. Good fun to do too. It is proving to be a great way of encouraging my flash fiction productivity and it is fun to think visually – to work out what videos would best suit my stories.

Screenshot 2022-07-26 at 20-40-16 Allison Symes

It’s Monday, It has been a long day. It is definitely story time. My latest tale on YouTube is called Enough Is Enough. Hope you enjoy it.

F = Focus – flash is a great way to sharpen your writing as you must concentrate on what matters to your character – no room for waffle!

L= Liberating, as despite the word count restriction, you can write across genres, in the first, third persons etc.

A = Acrostic flashes can be great to do – pick a relatively short word to use as these work best.

S = Story, story, story – it is all about the story – flash has to be a complete tale in and of itself.

H = Historical flash, humorous flash – have fun exploring genres here.

Advantage to flash is setting characters anywhere

I’ve talked before about the impact of flash fiction and that’s because it is one of the genre’s strengths. You haven’t got a lot of words to play with so you do have to make a great impact with the ones you have got!

This is why I think about the emotional response I want my story to have on a reader. I then think about what kind of character could fulfil that and the likely setting for them. Then I draft my tale.

When I know what my twist ending is (because I’ve drafted a few possibilities to use at a later date) I will know from what I drafted what the emotional impact is going to be already. I can hit the ground running here (which is another great reason to draft ideas for writing up later!).

Sometimes a story ends up being longer than I initially thought. That’s okay. If it works better at 300 words rather than 100 words, I leave it at the larger number and find a different market for it.

What matters is the story and its impact. You don’t want to dilute a powerful story for the sake of a word count. You equally don’t want a wordy story which could genuinely be cut and sharpened up. This is why I ask myself whether this is really necessary as I go through my draft. I’ve got to always be able to say yes to that.

AE - July 2021 - A well rounded character will show us something of ourselves

Goodreads Author Blog – Light Reading

Light reading is something I do all year round. When the world is being especially grim, as it is right now, then that’s the time to turn to books that help you escape. I was not surprised the sales of Wodehouse rocked up during the pandemic. People need an escape and lighter reading can be a great way to have that escape. (Especially if you really can’t go anywhere to get that escape another way!).

Light reading for me also includes reading short stories and flash collections, no matter what their theme. I just love short reads (and getting plenty of value for money by having lots of stories in one book!).
I do wish genre fiction wasn’t looked down on by some. It is snobbery. Genre fiction helps subsidize the more literary works and everyone has different tastes in books anyway.

Screenshot 2022-07-26 at 20-49-39 Light Reading

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Verbs and Verbosity in 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 have had a good week. I think I may have found my favourite title for a Chandler’s Ford Today post (see above and below!). Strange weather week here – had sun, gales, heavy rain and that was just by Wednesday. Welcome to the British summer!

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Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

Pleased to share Verbs and Verbosity In Fiction, my latest post for Chandler’s Ford Today. Hope you find it useful.

I look at the crucial role verbs play in any fiction and look at whether verbosity could be useful. Natural instincts would say otherwise. Surely you want to keep to the point, especially if you’re writing to a right word count as is required by flash fiction?

Generally, yes, but there is a place for well thought out verbosity funnily enough. See the post for more. I also share how I specifically use verbs to trigger story ideas.

Verbs and Verbosity in Fiction

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Had a lovely time at the Association of Christian Writers Flash Fiction group last night. Good to see everyone.

Writing wise this week, my Chandler’s Ford Today post will be about Verbs and Verbosity in Fiction. (Love it when I get some alliteration into a title!). Link above. Can verbosity be useful in fiction? Yes. Will share more about that in the post. Link up tomorrow. Also out tomorrow will be my author newsletter.

Writing Tip: I blog for various places as you know so I plan out what I’m blogging where and when. It’s a good idea to have a diary – great way to ensure I stay on track as well as helping me with that planning. I also aim to get a blog post up a few days before it is due out (earlier where and when possible) so I have time to go back in and do a final check on it.

For example, I will be carrying out a final check on my CFT post for this week shortly after I post this! Occasionally I pick up an odd error but at least I then have the time to amend it before the blog goes live. Did I pick up anything when doing this? Oh yes. And doing this gives me a final chance to check links etc are working properly.

29th June – More than Writers
It’s my turn once again on More than Writers, the blog spot for the Association of Christian Writers. This time I talk about Working Out a Writing Schedule. I look at why I find these useful and why it is so important to build in flexibility.

Life does get in the way at times after all but I’ve found knowing what I’m going to be writing on any one day means I am more productive. I can get straight to my desk and get on with things and I like that.

Screenshot 2022-07-01 at 09-24-51 Working Out a Writing Schedule by Allison Symes

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

My latest story on Friday Flash Fiction is an upbeat one. Hope you enjoy The Big Day. I have every sympathy for my character, Janine, here. See what you think!

Screenshot 2022-07-01 at 09-21-26 The Big Day by Allison Symes

30th June
How is it the end of June already?! Time marches on (which makes a great theme for a piece of flash fiction!).

Don’t forget you can use time as a structure for your story (as well as a theme). How? Well, I’ve written the odd diary style story. (That one took me up to the 1000 words limit but that was fine. The story was great fun to do and you can find it in Tripping the Flash Fantastic – Losing Myself).

But you could also set a story which has to happen over a few hours and you put in time progression as the story goes on.

You could also show what happens to a character over a longer time period, which could work well as a series of linked flash stories. I’ve sometimes used Time as a character too.

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Am posting earlier than usual today as I’ll be leading the Association of Christian Writers’ Flash Fiction group on Zoom later on. Always good fun and much learned and shared. Always a joy to talk about flash fiction too!

My more reflective pieces (such as They Don’t Understand from From Light to Dark and Back Again or The Pink Rose from Tripping the Flash Fantastic) are hard stories to do. Why? Because I still have to ensure there is a story in there.

I have to ensure my character voice is strong enough to “carry” the tale so you want to read what they have to say. This is where planning out my character helps enormously because it means I’ve got to know them well enough to know where they are coming from and why they have got a story to tell. That in turn makes it easier to write said story.

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Fairytales with Bite – Where Fairytales DO Bite

It has always annoyed me fairytales are considered in some circles as twee little tales for the kiddies. It does tell me one thing immediately though – the person saying that has not read fairytales in ages. They certainly haven’t read the originals which are often violent. Disney has had to water them down for family viewing!

Fairytales are unflinching in showing cruelty up for what it is too and that justice is often on the rough side. Think of The Red Shoes. The wicked stepmother in that has to dance in those shoes until she drops down dead. The Big Bad Wolf is boiled alive in The Three Little Pigs.

Twee – definitely not then.

I do love their robust honesty about what human nature can be like though. Fairytales don’t pull their punches. And that is how it should be.

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This World and Others – Society Norms

Following on from Fairytales with Bite, I think fairytale reflected society norms (and can still do so). People were used to the idea of short lives and for their society to be often violent and unjust. Fairytales were a way of showing that justice could be done, even that too was rough at times.

Though, thankfully , we have moved on (at least in general terms – the UK no longer has the death penalty for example) there is still a deep down wish evil should not prevail. Injustice rightly angers us.

So when it comes to your own created world, what are the society norms there? Are people so used to the violence around them they just accept it? How do your characters seek to improve things (and I’m taking it as a given they are seeking to improve things – there’s a great story structure right there)?

What do they have to overcome? Who helps them? Is magic involved? What are the end results? How are society norms changed by what they do? And there should be change.

Story is all about change, conflict and resolution after all, regardless of genre.

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Jubilees, Flash Fiction, and Publication News


Image Credit:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots and photos relating to the ACW Golden Jubilee weekend taken by me, Allison Symes.
It has been a lovely few days. No Jubilees for ages and then two together – Her Majesty’s Platinum one (I loved the Paddington Bear sketch) and the ACW one.

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Facebook – General

Funny old day weather wise here. June is being far from flaming in my part of the world.

I’ll be looking at Travelling Workshops for my Chandler’s Ford Today post this week. I’ll be taking a look back at two I’ve recently run and share what I think the benefit of these things are. Link up on Friday.

Managed to get a story drafted for Friday Flash Fiction on my train home on Sunday as I came back from the ACW Golden Jubilee weekend. Polished that up on Monday and submitted it. Also drafted and then edited a story for my Youtube channel on the way home and I hope to share the results of that over on my book page shortly. Good old Evernote – a very handy app to have on my phone!

Screenshot 2022-06-07 at 20-52-43 From Light to Dark and Back Again Facebook


Hectic day after a wonderful and busy weekend away. Lady went bonkers, the way she usually does, when she saw me again last night. She went even more bonkers with her best mate, the lovely Rhodesian Ridgeback, in the park this morning! Back to normal here then!

Delighted to come back to another acceptance of a story of mine, which I hope to talk about more later on in the year. Separately have had the contract in for my story for the next Bridge House Publishing Anthology. All exciting stuff.

What is especially nice is for a long time you get stories out there and then things tend to happen at once (or seem to). You get used to those periods where nothing seems to be happening and then make the most of those times when it is clear things are definitely happening!

The writing life really is a roller coaster.

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Am on my way home from a fabulous Association of Christian Writers Golden Jubilee weekend. Had a great time and it was wonderful to catch up with old friends and to make new ones.

I was especially pleased to meet up with #JennySanders because she often sends in stories for the flash fiction challenge I set monthly for Mom’s Favorite Reads. And talking of which I’m pleased to share the link for the June edition of MFR. Hope you enjoy.

Screenshot 2022-06-06 at 20-40-38 Mom’s Favorite Reads eMagazine June 2022


It was lovely to see so many at my flash fiction workshop at the Association of Christian Writers Golden Jubilee weekend. Many thanks for coming along and I hope people use the writing exercises to draft flash stories. Would love to hear news of publication successes later on.

It has been a fantastic day of celebration and writing here. Have loved catching up with friends and chatting in person to those I’ve enrolled for ACW membership or whose email queries I’ve dealt with.

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

It may be a day later but we can still start the week with a story! Hope you enjoy my latest tale on YouTube – Ringing The Changes.

My post in this month’s Mom’s Favorite Reads is all about Numbers in Flash Fiction. I look at how I use these in various ways to create stories. Link to the magazine here – and do check out the excellent flash pieces that came in as a result. Hope you enjoy.
Screenshot 2022-06-06 at 20-40-13 Mom’s Favorite Reads eMagazine June 2022

Had a wonderful time talking about flash at the ACW Golden Jubilee weekend. I hope people try writing it as well as enjoy reading it. It’s an interesting writing challenge and I’ve found it has sharpened up my writing considerably and not just for my fiction work.

So pleased to be having a standard length short story in the next Bridge House Publishing anthology. Looking forward to finding out what the cover will be – and for The Best of CafeLit 11 also due out later this year.

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It has been wonderful to share the joys of flash fiction at the Association of Christian Writers Golden Jubilee weekend. It was great to share stories and give feedback too. I’ve always found that element of things so useful at workshops.

Back home again tomorrow. Lady will wonder where I’ve been. As usual, Lady went a bit bonkers when I came back! Lots of cuddles and pleased to have ALL of her “pack” back!

Goodreads Author Blog – Sharing Stories

One great joy of stories is their share-ability. I’ve happily recommended books to friends and often taken up their recommendations to me.

When I run writing workshops, especially for flash fiction, I often share a couple of my tales and break down how I wrote them. I’ve learned a lot when other writers do this. We’re all keen to learn more about improving on what we do.

I base my recommendations to others on what I know of their book tastes but also if the characterisation is especially good. We all read to find out what happens to the characters after all.

Screenshot 2022-06-07 at 21-08-20 Shared Stories

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Settings and Simplicity in 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 have had a good week. Have enjoyed what I’ve seen of the Platinum Jubilee events (and plan to catch up on the rest next week. Why then? Because I’m off to a Golden Jubilee weekend for the Association of Christian Writers, where I’ll be running a flash fiction workshop. No Jubilees for ages and then two at once!).

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Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

Am pleased to share Settings and Simplicity in Fiction for Chandler’s Ford Today. I look at how settings can act like characters. I also wonder whether some authors came up with their settings first and then knew what characters had to be in them or if they came up with the characters first and then had to find the most appropriate setting for them.

I also look at how simple writing takes work and crafting but it is a joy to read and the reader has nothing clunky getting in their way. It makes a huge difference to the reading experience for them. I often wonder when I come across over-complicated prose, as I do sometimes, just what the writer was trying to hide or show off here. For me the joy of writing is about communicating with a reader and I want to be as direct as possible on that. I don’t see the point of doing anything else.

Settings and Simplicity in Fiction

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2nd June – Queen’s Coronation Day Anniversary

Loved watching Trooping the Colour and the flypast today. Fabulous weather. Great crowds too. I plan to catch up with the other events once I am back from the ACW Golden Jubilee weekend. Am off on my travels for that tomorrow.

My Chandler’s Ford Today post tomorrow is all about Settings and Simplicity In Fiction. I look at how settings can act like characters and why simple writing isn’t as easy as it (a) looks and (b) sounds. One benefit from flash fiction writing is it has taught me how to spot my wasted words, what doesn’t add anything to my story, so I know to ruthlessly cut all of that on my edit.

And I have publication news too – I am pleased to say my story has been accepted for the Bridge House Publishing anthology due out later this year. More news as and when – am delighted to be included again. Congratulations to everyone else who received this lovely news too!

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Two days to go to the ACW Golden Jubilee weekend. So looking forward to seeing everyone.

Next trip after that will be to the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School in August. Looking forward to that too! Am getting good use out of my railcard this year. This is nice because I was the woman who bought a railcard two weeks before the first lockdown started in 2020 when nobody was going anywhere. Oops! Making up for lost time now though.

I will be putting my posts up as normal over the weekend but they will be at different times. Will be pretty busy during the day and evening so expect the posts to go up late. I do hope to write up about the weekend (and my time with the lovely people at the London Jesuit Centre recently) for a CFT post before long as well.

Chandler's Ford Today post reminder picture(1)

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

So pleased to share my latest story on Friday Flash Fiction. Hope you enjoy On The Doorstep. This was a joy to write and I was rooting for my character, Mabel, all the way through. This is good. The first person to care about a character should be their creator!

https://www.fridayflashfiction.com/100-word-stories/on-the-doorstep-by-allison-symes

Screenshot 2022-06-02 at 20-42-56 Friday Flash Fiction

One reason I outline before writing a story is to avoid the old saggy middle problem. Yes, it can happen in flash fiction too. I’ve found knowing my start and end points is a good way of avoiding that issue. I know where I’m heading so off I go!

How much to outline is up to each writer. I don’t fill in each and every detail as I want to give my imagination manoeuvre room, as I’ve mentioned before, but I do need the “pillars” of the story in place so I know from the start the structure is going to be okay. (Maybe without a good structure in place, that encourages the saggy middle to happen – just a thought).

I think it is a question of working out what you need to know before writing a story and that will differ from writer to writer as well.

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Looking forward to sharing the joys of flash fiction at the ACW Golden Jubilee at the weekend. Talking about talking…! One good thing about flash is when you do use dialogue, you’ve got to keep it focused. I must admit I do enjoy getting characters chatting but conversational ping-pong is not the idea!

What I look for dialogue to do (including internal dialogue) is for it to move the story on in some way. If it does, fab; it stays in. If not, out comes the old editing pen. It has helped to be aware though that I do like conversational ping-pong. I love to hear my characters speak because to me that proves they are “real”.

But the overriding concern has to be does it help the story develop? That is my guiding light as to whether something stays in a tale or not, regardless ot the story length.

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Fairytales with Bite – Clothes in a Magical World

When the thought for this topic came to me. I thought of two stories immediately. The obvious one was Cinderella – the rags being turned into that wonderful dress.

I also thought of the fairytale The Elves and the Shoemaker – I do count shoes as clothes (well, if you’re going out somewhere, you need something on your feet!, but also because of how this story ends with the shoemaker’s wife sewing clothes for the elves in return for their kindness to her husband and herself. I also like this story because you get to see the elves being cobblers (and not just using magic to make the shoes etc) and you also see the wife sewing.

I could have thought of The Emperor’s New Clothes too but that is really a story about a pair of successful con artists when all is said and done!

So in your created world, what do your characters wear? What are the differences between species and/or classes here? How are the items made? Is there a manufacturing industry as such or does everyone make their own? Or are skills bartered? What equipment is used? I’ll take spinning wheels as a given!

In your stories, you almost certainly won’t need to go into a lot of detail here but the odd line here or there about who wears what, where they get clothes etc from will help your world seem more real to a reader. Having a character go to a shop (or your world’s equivalent) would be enough to show a reader how this works. I love little details in stories. They help me picture things and I won’t be the only reader who thinks that.

This World and Others – Material Matters

Tying in with Fairytales with Bite , where does your fictional world get its materials from, whether for clothing, shoe making or anything else? Can it produce its own or does it have to import some or all of what it needs? Where would it import from and have there ever been trade wars etc or have two societies been able to trade successfully?

When it comes to producing its own, what can it produce? Are crops (such as cotton) grown? What kind of people in your society would do things like that? Are they looked down on for doing manual work or held in high esteem? Attitudes to others have repercussions!

What does your fictional world value? We obviously value things like gold and silver but do they? In a world where that is common place, it might be treated with contempt. You don’t tend to notice the “every day” stuff.

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Twitter Corner

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>Pleased to share latest CFT post. I look at settings acting like characters and why simple writing isn’t easy writing. It is vital for good prose though!<a href=”https://t.co/llXyQpHphi“>https://t.co/llXyQpHphi</a></p>&mdash; Allison Symes (@AllisonSymes1) <a href=”https://twitter.com/AllisonSymes1/status/1532659454084251648?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw“>June 3, 2022</a></blockquote> http://a%20href=

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>Hope you enjoy my latest drabble on Friday Flash Fiction. I was rooting for my character, Mabel. Hope you do too.<a href=”https://t.co/Q7WjxPCo5T“>https://t.co/Q7WjxPCo5T</a></p>&mdash; Allison Symes (@AllisonSymes1) <a href=”https://twitter.com/AllisonSymes1/status/1532659994797154304?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw“>June 3, 2022</a></blockquote> http://a%20href=

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Zooming Around and Being Kind to Yourself


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’ve had a good few days. Weather changeable here. Hope it brightens up for Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee (mind you, we are used to changeable weather here so prepare for it). I plan to raise a glass or two while I’m away at the Association of Christian Writers’ Golden Jubilee this weekend. I know – no jubilees for ages and then two at once!

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Facebook – General

Hope you’ve had a good day. You know I said Lady and I received a bit of a soaking yesterday? Well, today we “copped the lot” in a cloudburst that drenched us in minutes. It was a relief to get home and change. Lady is pretty good at being towelled down – she sees it as a chance for a cuddle.

Don’t forget I send out my author newsletter on the first of the month. I share tips, prompts news etc here and if you would like to sign up, just head over to my landing page at https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com

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Looking forward to my trip to Derbyshire at the weekend. So nice being able to do in person events again. Mind you, I’ve taken to Zoom well too. It has been lovely to be able to make the most of both worlds here. Long may that continue!

Is there a particular day of the week when writing just seems tougher to do than usual? I hope it is some comfort to know every writer has those days. On those days, I focus on writing short things or accept I will write something towards a longer piece (say one of my blog posts). Writing is writing, whether you manage 50 words in a day or 5000. It accumulates.

And on those tough days, you will still have got something written. I find that cheers me up knowing I’ve got something to develop later. On those days when I can’t write at all, I try to ensure I “up” my reading as that helps with my writing too.

Writing is hard work but most of the time it should be a joy too.

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Changeable weather here in Hampshire – Lady and I did get a bit of a soaking. (Have known worse, mind you).

Many thanks to everyone for the lovely comments in on my Getting the Most from a Writing Workshop post for More Than Writers yesterday.  Link further down.

I’ll be looking at Settings and Simplicity In Fiction for Chandler’s Ford Today on Friday, just ahead of my heading off to the ACW Golden Jubilee weekend in lovely Derbyshire. I hope to write about that event and my recent workshop for the London Jesuit Centre in a CFT post after that. And I’ll be setting another flash challenge for Mom’s Favorite Reads soon too – so it’s all go in a good way.

Chandler's Ford Today post reminder picture(1)

 

Writing Tip 10008 or thereabouts: Be kind to yourself.
What has that got to do with writing, I hear you ask. A lot! I find I write more (and enjoy what I do more) when I am relaxed. So having classical music on in the background helps me a lot there but so do things like ensuring I get enough sleep, make time for reading, etc.

I’ve learned over time to realize on those days when the writing is slow or I am especially tired to just write what I can and have done. (Mondays for me is often a day like that). I’ve found being kind to myself, especially in not beating myself up over what I haven’t got done, helps me on those days when I do have more time to write. Away I go again and it’s fine.

I also look at my writing over the course of a week so I never judge my progress (or lack of it) by what I managed to do (or couldn’t do) as a result of one good or bad day. I’ve found that helps a lot. I think my productivity has increased due to this too – it certainly feels like I get more done now than I used to do.

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It’s my turn on the More Than Writers blog (Association of Christian Writers blog spot). I’m talking this time about Getting The Most from a Writing Workshop. I share some thoughts and tips which I have found useful over the years when going to these. Hope you find it helpful).

Looking forward to running my flash fiction workshop at the ACW Golden Jubilee weekend from 3rd to 5th June too.

Oh and the most important tip (well it is to me, anyway)?

Go – and have fun!

Screenshot 2022-05-29 at 14-31-29 Getting the Most from a Writing Workshop by Allison Symes

Many thanks for the great comments coming in on my The Heights of Equals, my latest story on Friday Flash Fiction. All much appreciated.

I’m back on the ACW blog tomorrow with my post about Getting the Most Out of a Writing Workshop. Timely since I’ve recently run one and am about to do so so again. Link up tomorrow on that. See above.

Don’t forget I send out my author newsletter on the first of the month. I share tips, news, prompts, writing advice etc and if this sounds of interest please do sign up at https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com

Am enjoying using the various random generators to trigger ideas for stories and hope to resume more work on those tomorrow. I’m finding I am producing more stories as a result so I like that aspect too.

Screenshot 2022-05-27 at 09-24-38 The Heights of Equals by Allison Symes

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

I do a dry run of my workshop material and record myself on Zoom. As well as listening to see how it sounds (and therefore how the material is likely to come across to someone else), I can get a sense of the timing of my workshop and adjust things as I need to.

I do love that facility within Zoom to automatically convert your files to mp4 for you. So useful.

I like to leave enough time for questions too. Knowing the timing means it is easy to do that. At workshops I’ve attended, I love the question section. Interesting topics come up and I inevitably learn something useful from that.

I often read a story or two of mine and break down how I wrote them. (I’ve found this useful when other writers do it). So I get to practice that too.

It helps (I find just knowing I have had a read through helps with nerves. I can remind myself I have read the stories, it was fine etc., now all I need to do is do it again – and that’s fine). With flash, the huge advantage is the readings don’t take long (leaving plenty of time for question time later!)

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How come it is almost the end of May already? I don’t know the answer to that one but I do know it’s Monday and time for a story. Hope you like my latest YouTube story, Surprise.

I’m running my flash fiction workshop as part of the Association of Christian Writers Golden Jubilee weekend (3rd to 5th June – yes, we’ll raise a glass or two to the Queen while there !). Very much looking forward to it as it is always a pleasure to spread the word about the joys of writing flash fiction.

I look at how it can benefit all forms of writing and share a couple of stories and break down how I wrote them amongst many other tips and advice and yes I set writing exercises too. All good fun. Did I imagine I would ever do something like this when I started out as a writer? Absolutely not! It’s another reason to be grateful for the flash fiction though!

 

I often read my stories aloud, as you know, sometimes for things like Open Prose Mic Nights. I also do this as I prepare workshop material so I can hear that my chosen tales do fit in as well as I thought. I also do this when I get a collection together. I see that as part of my editing.

Reading work out loud does confirm if the story flows as well as you think or not. If you stumble over reading the story, a reader will do but you can adjust that before the story sees the light of day. I’ve done this several times. It can be strange sometimes when you see dialogue written down, say, it looks fine. Reading it out loud shows otherwise!

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Goodreads Author Blog – Other Worlds in Books

All books take us to other worlds. Yes, even non-fiction, given that can enlighten us to aspects of life in this world and increase our knowledge, making us see this world in new lights.

But for fantasy and sci-fi especially, what is it about their settings which convinces you to “suspend disbelief” while reading the story? For The Lord of the Rings (though this applies to many other stories too) it was the portrayal of the characters which made me believe in the settings.

Hobbits are small so it makes sense for them to live in something like hobbit holes. I was also convinced by the peaceful tranquil setting of The Shire especially when contrasted with the dark world of Mordor. To have both of these elements in the book made sense to me. One represents good, the other evil. No world is perfect, even in fiction. Contrasts work for me.

And we can all understand the wish to defend one’s home, even more so with world events right now. So again I get the setting and the wish to defend that. I don’t need to know every little thing about the setting but I do need to know enough to understand why the characters love it.

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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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