Pantomime, Rabbits, and Keeping Going

Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated with many created in Book Brush. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes.
Think my title for this post is a cracker – it’s not your usual combo! Hope you’ve had a good weekend and early start to this week. My weekend took in all the fun and chaos of pantomime which was great. Oh yes, it was!
(For those who don’t know the pantomime tradition the “oh yes, he is” and the “oh no, he isn’t” etc etc is a staple ingredient of ALL pantomimes, which are always based on the classic fairytales. This gives me another reason to love them. It is one of the few times an audience is expected to shout at the actors on the stage and where it is welcomed!).

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Facebook – General

Hope you have had a good day. Am delighted to say the February edition of Mom’s Favorite Reads is now out, with new editor in chief, Wendy H Jones at the helm. Now this year is the Year of the Rabbit so you may wonder how I could have written my flash fiction column and set a challenge around that. If you want to find out, turn to page 66 – see the link below – and do check out the rest of the magazine. It is a fabulous, free read – what’s not to like?

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Had a wonderful time at Pinocchio, the pantomime staged by The Chameleon Theatre Group over the last week or so. I’ll be reviewing this for Chandler’s Ford Today later this week. All great fun!

Don’t forget my author newsletter is due out again on Wednesday. If you’d like to sign up do head over to my landing page at https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com

Hope to have news of a potential interview soon. Looking forward to that.

Writing Tip: An outline doesn’t have to be chapter and verse. Often, especially with a flash piece, a couple of lines as to character, trait, situation is enough. Example below.

Character: Older lady.
Trait: Pride
Situation: Faces something where she has to ask for help, though she really doesn’t want to do so.

That is enough to give me the “bare bones” of a potential story. I will then have fun filling in the gaps but it is a great way to start a potential tale and the lovely thing with this approach is when you have the odd couple of minutes, it still gives you time to jot something like this down for working on later.

 

It’s my turn on the More than Writers blog, the Association of Christian Writers blog spot. This time I talk about Keeping Going, an apt topic for what can seem like the longest month of the year! (Sometimes you have to laugh at your own typos – when I first typed the last sentence, it came out as longest moth of the year!).

Hope you find the post useful and encouraging.

Screenshot 2023-01-29 at 08-03-06 Keeping Going by Allison Symes

Am off to see Pinocchio as performed by our wonderful local amateur drama company, The Chameleon Theatre Group, later tonight so am posting early. Review to follow on Chandler’s Ford Today in due course. Later, there will be more fabulous author interviews to come as well.

Many of the fairytales make for wonderful pantomimes of course and I think one reason is that the themes of these appeal to a wide age range. Pinocchio is about acceptance. Most of us will identify with the need for that. Even at a very young age, you do even if you can’t articulate it. And that is a massive factor in why fairytales will always be timeless.

May be an image of text that says "The classic fairytales call classicfairytalescalloutevil out evil for what it is and reflect our behaviour. They don't flatter!"

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Many thanks for the views in already on Character Missing In Action, my latest YouTube video. Also thanks for the views in on Bigger and Better, my video from last week. Now my author newsletter is out again tomorrow and I do include all the links to my Youtube and Friday Flash Fiction tales as part of this. I also share news, tips, writing advice etc. If you’d like to sign up do head over to my landing page at https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com for more.


It’s Monday. The evenings are slowly getting lighter in my part of the world – hooray! There are signs of spring emerging. Still time for a story here and this one, I think will particularly appeal to the writers. Hope you enjoy Character Missing In Action.

 

Slowly getting warmer out there and it is nice to have a bit more daylight each day. I was listening to an interesting snippet on Classic FM where talk turned briefly to missing jigsaw pieces and how only one missing piece can spoil the whole thing.

Well, the same is true for story writing and the missing “bits” show up even more sharply in flash fiction with its maximum word count of 1000 words. So what do I mean by “bits” here? Simple!

1. You must have an intriguing character. I define intriguing here as being where a reader must read to find out what happens to said character. Your reader can’t look away until they reach the end.

2. You must have a proper beginning, middle, and end. Flash fiction isn’t truncated prose. Something has to happen. Something has to be resolved. There has to be a turning point roughly in the middle.

3. The ending must be satisfactory given the nature of the character and the storyline. Doesn’t necessarily have to be a happy ending.

Now I’ve talked before about being inspired by overhearing bits of conversation. That’s exactly what has happened for me today with this post. I never thought I’d be inspired by a Classic FM presenter to trigger today’s Facebook post but there you go!

May be an image of text that says "A framework is my road map for my story. It stop me going off at unhelpful tangents which would only need to be cut out later."

Hope you have had a good day. Glad to say my order for my flash fiction collections arrived yesterday – very prompt. Always love opening parcels like that! Also nice to have to top up on stocks…

Have revamped my business card a bit and ordered in some other bits I hope I will put to good use at later book events.

I like all kinds of story collections as you might expect. They are a great way to try out works by authors new to you and I am pleased to recommend the Bridgetown Cafe Bookshop as a place to start hunting out some fab collections to try.
Screenshot 2023-01-31 at 20-40-11 The Bridgetown Café Bookshop

Goodreads Author Blog – Book Deliveries

I recently took stock of a delivery of copies of my two flash fiction collections. Always a joy to top up on stocks and to open parcels like that. I love book deliveries, also for when I am buying in other authors’ works. Those parcels are joy to open too!

I’ve never envied Santa for his sleigh round. There will be a lot of books on there – and they’re heavy. Maybe that explains the need for millions of mince pies!

I do, of course, visit book shops (not as often as I’d like. Mind you, this may be a good thing to (a) help my bank balance and (b) you might need a crow bar to get me out of the shop).

But however you get your books, the important thing is to enjoy them. I like to read widely in and out of my genre (including non-fiction) as that helps me inspire with my own writing. How?

Simply in that an odd line here or there will spark off an idea for a situation I could put my characters into and then have fun working out how they get out of it again, assuming they do. Also the odd fact can spark ideas for a character.

And the best reason of all to enjoy books? Simply because reading is fun.

Screenshot 2023-01-28 at 17-58-56 Book Deliveries
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ALLISON SYMES – BOOK BRUSH READER HUB

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MOM’S FAVORITE READS – CHECK OUT THE MAGAZINE INCLUDING MY FLASH FICTION COLUMN HERE –

Screenshot 2023-01-31 at 20-50-46 Mom's Favorite Reads eMagazine February 2023

Positives and Negatives

Image Credits:- All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Many created via Book Brush. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots as ever were taken by me, Allison Symes.
I hope you have had a lovely Christmas. This is a round up of my posts from Christmas Eve until now. Loved having some time off (and especially with catching up with friends, family, and favourite films) but it is also good to be back writing again. Happy New Year to you all.

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Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

30th December 2022
A bit later than usual tonight, I admit, but it is with great pleasure I share my last Chandler’s Ford Today post for the year. Aptly, I look at Positives and Negatives. Hope you enjoy the post and a big thank you for the great comments coming in on this one already.

Positives and Negatives

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29th December – More Than Writers
It’s my turn on the More Than Writers spot, the blog from the Association of Christian Writers. To wrap up the old year nicely as we rapidly approach the new one, I look at New Directions.

I look at being willing to try new writing directions and I encourage setting writing goals. Nothing is set in stone here (only the Ten Commandments ever were!) but it is useful to know where you would like to head. I’ve found setting some ideas down means I am more likely to achieve them (or at least get close to doing so). Hope you enjoy the post.

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28th December
Hope you have a lovely Christmas break (and are continuing to enjoy the season). It has been great catching up with family and friends and favourite films. Am also loving having more time to read but it is also nice to be back writing again.

I’m looking at Positives and Negatives for my end of year post for Chandler’s Ford Today. Link up on Friday. See above. My next blog round up on my website will also be out on Friday (right here in fact!) with my next author newsletter out on 1st January. If you’d like to sign up for that do head over to my landing page at https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com

Also looking forward to tonight’s gathering of the Association of Christian Writers Flash Fiction Group on Zoom. Will be nice to have a chat and sharing of festive flash fiction.

25th to 27th December – no posts but had a lovely time. Hope you did too.

24th December 2022
Hope your Christmas preparations are going/have gone well. Have loved listening to the wonderful Christmas music on Classic FM today. I’ll be signing off for a couple of days before resuming writing next week. I hope you have plenty of books as part of your presents this year!

Have a lovely Christmas and many thanks for all the support for my posts etc throughout the year. Much appreciated.

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30th December 2022
Hope you have had a good day. I was talking about Positives and Negatives as my end of year post for Chandler’s Ford Today this week.

But it struck me you could take the idea of positives and negatives and use them to create stories for your characters.

You could create a positive story for Character A and follow it up with a more negative one (or vice versa).

You could have a “need to be redeemed” story as the negative tale and the “being redeemed” story as your positive one, all based on the same character.

You can also have positive and negative characters in conflict with each other – which one will win out?

May be an image of text that says "I like to regularly recharge how I generate my ideas."

29th December
It was lovely seeing everyone at the Association of Christian Writers Flash Fiction group meeting on Zoom last night. We shared festive flash and writing thoughts/tips. Great fun and a lovely way to wrap up the year.

One thing I mentioned last night was that festive flash is about the only seasonal writing I do (because it’s fun, best reason of all!). The nice thing with any kind of seasonal writing though is you can prepare for these events all year around. I will often draft festive flash pieces during the summer and autumn for instance. You know these events will always come around so you can make use of that.

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28th December
Hope you have had a lovely Christmas and are continuing to enjoy the season. Hope you had plenty of books in your presents, including flash fiction collections!

I hope to start sending in stories again to Friday Flash Fiction from next week. One thing I’d like to achieve in the coming year is to enter more flash competitions than I did this year. I would certainly have a go at Flash NANO again. Loved that.

Writing a flash tale a day helps keep writer’s block at bay, anyone?

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25th to 27th December – no posts but had a lovely time. Hope you did too.

24th December
Time for a quick Christmas flash tale. Hope you enjoy the following, Being There.

 

Fairytales With Bite – A New Year, A New Start

A new year can be a great time to make a new start but how would your characters do that? Why would they need to make a new start? If they’re magical, what have they done to make a new start desirable? (Good comic potential here).

Of course there are characters who don’t realise they do need a new start. (Scrooge didn’t think he did before the ghosts turned up). Who would be the one to bring this to their attention and how does your main character take this? There would be good potential for comedy or tragedy if they don’t react well.

In the case of a character with power, if they decide to make a new start, whose benefit is it for? Are they accepting the needs for beneficial reforms or are they trying to take rights away? A new start isn’t always a good thing!

Also, are they using the New Year as a convenient time for them (people may not be paying full attention after all) or is there another reason for making a new start now? Are they trying to head off further problems by making a new start “early” or have they left it too late?

AE - July 2021 - Whether you love or loathe the characters, they should make you feel something

This World and Others – Keeping Time

How does your setting keep time? Do they use the same system of seconds, minutes, hours, day, weeks, months, and years as we do? We base our calendar on twelve months but if your world bases theirs on a ten month system what is the reason for that? Are your characters dominated by time? (They might not be if they’re immortal or have something close to immortality so how would they get on with species where time is a matter of life and death?).

As for timekeeping, do your characters run to time or are they notoriously late? Does this land them in it? How do people tell the time? What are their time pieces like? I must admit I love looking at pictures of old time pieces (especially pocket watches which come up on the antiques programmes every so often. I am taken aback by the beauty of these things and how exquisitely they’re made. The craftsmanship is amazing. Does your setting have craftsman like that and how did they learn their trade? How is time kept? Is it accurate?).

Could another character use someone’s obsession with time against them and, if so, how? Could time prove to be deadly to a character? If you portray Time as a character, what is their role in your setting? Are they controlled by anyone else? What would happen if Time was allowed to do as he/she/it liked? Are there boundaries for Time?

Story ideas there, I think!

Characters need time to work out their next move
Goodreads Author Blog – Christmas and Books

I hope you end up with plenty of new books as Christmas presents this year. It is especially comforting to read when in the depths of winter. All you need to go with that new book is a lovely mug of hot chocolate. Perfect reading conditions! Christmas is the perfect time to give and receive new books. (And it always pays to keep the hot chocolate in!).

I hope the New Year will see plenty of interesting new books to investigate. I’ve submitted my own third flash fiction collection for consideration so am keeping fingers crossed for that one. Would love to see that out in 2023.

Whatever your choice of reading material, I hope you have a lovely Christmas and get plenty of reading done. Let’s hear it for the hardbacks, the paperbacks, the e-books, the novellas, the novels, the short story and flash fiction collections, and the non-fiction selections. Let’s read!

Happy Christmas!

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Seasonal Stories, Publication News, and a Lady With a Grudge

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All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes. It is always great fun to come up with titles for my posts here. All of the above apparently unrelated topics are covered below! Hope you enjoy.BookBrushImage-2022-11-29-20-3957

Facebook – General

It’s my turn once again on More than Writers, the blog spot for the Association of Christian Writers. Aptly, now we are in Advent, I talk about Seasonal Stories. I talk about writing festive flash fiction and also the importance of planning well ahead for writing for the seasonal markets. I also look at what I love to read over the Christmas period.

Hope you enjoy your seasonal writing and reading.

 

Has been a very busy Monday. Am hoping for a less hectic Tuesday!

One nice task today though was to put in my order for my copies of Evergreen, the latest Bridge House Publishing book. More news on this below. I’m going to be picking up my copies at their celebration event in London on Saturday and am so looking forward to that. These events are always great fun. The event will also be celebrating The Best of CafeLit 11 which was out a little earlier this year.

Looking forward also to the Association of Christian Writers Flash Fiction group meeting on Wednesday this week.

And on Thursday, I send out my latest author newsletter.

Writing Tip: If you use the random generators to trigger story ideas, as I often do, make sure you mix up the ones you use. Firstly it’s not so much fun if you just stick to one or two. Secondly, other generators will stretch you. I didn’t think I could get stories out of the random number generator, for example, until I gave it a go.

 

Hope you have had a lovely Sunday. It’s Advent Sunday today and it was lovely to see the Christmas tree up in our church this morning.

Many thanks for the congratulations coming in on my story Never Old – Ever Green and Good To Go (a title which in many ways is my motto!) appearing in the new Bridge House Publishing anthology, Evergreen. Much appreciated, folks. Now you know what the publication news is in the title of this post!

Also thanks for the great response to my two part interview with Jenny Sanders on Chandler’s Ford Today recently.

Am glad to report I have another super author interview coming up this coming Friday, when I get to talk again to Scottish crime writer, Val Penny. Looking forward to sharing that on Friday. The theme will be “seconds” – it’s an interesting tag for this one.

Hope all who are taking part in Flash NANO are having a great time with it – I am. Can hardly believe we’re almost at the end of the month and the prompts.#

 

Am thrilled to say I am back in print again with a short story, Never Old – Ever Green and Good To Go, in the brand new anthology from Bridge House Publishing. This is called Evergreen – an Anthology and I am pleased to be between the covers again with familiar names and new authors. For more details see The Bridgetowncafe Bookshop link.

And well done, everyone, who has a story in here – the buzz of being published never diminishes. Nor should it!

Screenshot 2022-11-27 at 15-12-29 Evergreen eBook Multiple Hobbs-Wyatt Debz James Gill Amazon.co.uk Kindle Store

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Many thanks for the views coming in on Judith, my latest YouTube story. It seems my lady with a grudge has some fans!

Don’t forget my author newsletter goes out on Thursday. My monthly newsletter is a great reminder of how quickly the year is flying.

Will be tackling another interesting challenge from Flash NANO later on. Am so pleased with how things have worked out here.

While my stories need further editing and polishing, to have 30 new stories in a month is great. Would I take part in this again? Oh yes.

May be an image of text that says "What I love about flash is, ike the camera, it makes you focus. WOOZ SN3T SIN"

28th November 2022 – Second post
Almost forgot to mention my new YouTube tale is now out there. See what you make of Judith – a lady with a grudge against… well I’ll leave you to find out! Hope you enjoy it!

28th November
Have selected the pieces I hope to read from From Light to Dark and Back Again and Tripping the Flash Fantastic for my London trip on Saturday. This is always a fun task!

Am working on a flash piece I hope to enter for a competition (deadline is the end of the year. I will aim to have it sorted and submitted in the next week or two as I always take time off any official deadline to give me time to make sure I haven’t missed anything and still get the story in on good time.

Good rule of thumb to remember here is it is okay for them to be late. It isn’t all right for you to be late! This is probably a hangover from my pre-driving days when I took the same view with buses – and rightly so too!).

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Looking forward to a trip to London on Saturday when I go to the Bridge House Publishing event. Part of the celebrations here include reading stories and I hope to read two or three of my flash pieces here. The nice thing with flash is each story doesn’t take long and I like to mix up story length and mood. Also had fun packing my book bag ready for Saturday (well, I like to be ready for these things!).

Almost at the end of Flash NANO – hard to believe where the time has gone. I’ve got something for each of the challenges set and plenty of editing to do in December but that’s fine.

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Hope you have a good day. Am so pleased to have another publication credit (Never Old – Ever Green and Good To Go is my short story in Evergreen an Anthology published by Bridge House Publishing).

I am making good progress on the Flash NANO challenges – can’t believe the month has almost gone.

And am so looking forward to the Bridge House Publishing celebration event next Saturday. Will be good to see people again. Especially since this event has had to be cancelled due to Covid in the past, it will be so nice to meet up.

I’m getting my next author newsletter ready to go out on 1st December. I share flash information and tips here as well as my news. To sign up head over to the landing page at my website – https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com

Have also spent time today preparing a certain wish list for a certain festive event – books are included – surprise, surprise, not!

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Goodreads Author Blog – ‘Tis The Season To Buy Books!

The 27th November 2022 is Advent Sunday, the day the Church begins the countdown to Christmas. Certainly it is at about this time of year I get present lists up together and books are very much included here! It is a joy to select books for others as well as giving my family a wish list for books I’d like to have.

Okay, you can always tell a book-shaped present for what it is under the Christmas tree but there is joy in spotting those there too!

I like a mixture of books as presents to me. This year I’ve opted for a couple of crime novels and a humorous book which is part of a series I love. Kindle books I tend to get as and when I want them and I often try out authors new to me by downloading their ebooks first. If I really like their work, I will often to go for the next book in paperback.

One thing the pandemic has changed for me is that I haven’t been in to the big shopping centres (and therefore the big bookshops) for a while. I don’t know yet if that will change for this year but I do, whenever possible, support a variety of online retailers, including those who support the independent bookshops. Do look out for those. I also support smaller bookshops when I can. They all have a lovely ambience to them and that’s reason enough to go in and support those!

I hope you have a lovely season buying books and then the great joy of having several to unwrap on Christmas Day!

Screenshot 2022-11-26 at 19-53-57 'Tis The Season To Buy Books!

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Flash NANO, Book Wish Lists, and Podcast 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 have had a good start to the week. Wild weather here but progressing well with Flash NANO and I’m about to be on a podcast talking about that very thing. Hope to share the link to the podcast in the next issue on Friday.

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Facebook – General

Thrilled to say I was interviewed by #WendyHJones for her podcast, The Writing and Marketing Show, today. Show will go out tomorrow and I’m looking forward to sharing the link.

Our topic? Flash NANO! Flash NANO is an offshoot of NaNoWriMO and is where flash fiction writers get to write 30 flash pieces over 30 days. I’ll be working on my prompt for today later on this evening! Tomorrow’s episode follows on beautifully from her show last week which talked about NaNoWriMo – the A to Z see link for that. It was great fun taking part in this and I am always keen to spread the word about flash fiction – win-win here then!

Screenshot 2022-11-08 at 20-40-00 NaNoWriMo A to Z - The Writing and Marketing Show

Hope you have had a lovely start to your working week. Blustery and wet again here but I did have a lovely surprise this morning. Ruth Leigh, whom I recently interviewed for Chandler’s Ford Today, gave me a lovely shout-out on More Than Writers (the Association of Christian Writers blog spot). See link and screenshot.

Talking of CFT, my post this week will be called Remembering, especially apt at this post goes out on Armistice Day.

And in other news, I will be interviewed myself very soon. See above! Will give more details when I can but looking forward to this a lot.

All in all, it’s not been a bad Monday!

Screenshot 2022-11-07 at 09-21-45 It's All in the Questions

More rain last night, fewer fireworks, Lady dozing off to the second part of Classic FM’s Pet Classics – win-win all around here!
I use a good old-fashioned paper diary bought from my local Post Office to help me plan out my writing. I find this especially useful for the different blogs I write pieces for. There is still much to be said for pen and paper technology!

Having said that, I take my turn every month on the Association of Christian Writers Twitter feed. I draft those tweets in advance and schedule them so I use that kind of technology too.

Am definitely one of life’s planners. I find it invaluable for keeping track of my writing. And today being a Sunday, as well as continuing with Flash NANO later on, I will get some flash pieces ready for submission and scheduling respectively. It’s a nice way to round off the writing week.

May be an image of text that says "Planning out your writing does not have to kill spontaneity, far from it. don't plan to the "nth" degree. I plan enough to get me started and to ensure I get done in a week what I'd like to get done. TOBER NOVEMBER DECEMBER YEARLYPLANNER PLANNER 2019 LNE MON ON"

Hope you have had a good Saturday. There were some fireworks last night but the combination of Classic FM’s Pet Classics, the TV being on, and shut curtains etc meant Lady was okay (and she nodded off during the evening, which is always a good sign). The only positive thing about the wild and wet weather today is it should mean fewer fireworks (I hope). I see some of the supermarkets are now stocking the silent variety. Now that is the way to go with these things. It is the noise which causes the most distress and I do feel deeply sorry for the wild animals. At least I can keep my pet indoors.

A big thanks for the wonderful comments coming in on Old Notebooks, my latest story on Friday Flash Fiction. Feedback always appreciated.

My theme for next week’s Chandler’s Ford Today will be Remembering given it will be Armistice Day.

Memories can make great themes for stories too. You can have characters who struggle with theirs for various reasons from illness to the memories themselves being something they don’t really want to have to face up to and don’t forget false memories. Who has them? What has triggered this? How can they be shown these memories are false?

Progressing well with Flash NANO too. Looking forward to having a go at today’s prompt later on.

Screenshot 2022-11-04 at 09-26-35 Old Notebooks by Allison Symes

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Earlier today I was spreading the word about flash fiction and Flash NANO in particular as guest interviewee on Wendy H Jones’s podcast, The Writing and Marketing Show. Show goes out tomorrow and I will be sharing the link then.

But I’m always pleased to share the virtues of flash fiction and one perhaps overlooked aspect is the possibilities of getting into print with it. I hope by the end of Flash NANO to have 30 new stories. Once I’ve polished those up, I hope to send some in for competitions. Others I hope to put towards a future collection. And with the rise in the indie press, there are opportunities out there to have flash collections published. I know, I’ve done it!

I also remain convinced that flash is an excellent form of writing exercise for any writer because you have to think about what the story is about and what the reader needs to know and cut out everything that doesn’t serve a useful purpose.

Flash Fiction focuses on THE important aspect of a character's life

It’s a dark Monday. It’s a wet and windy one. Time for my latest story on YouTube. Hope you enjoy All In The Game, which is based on fact too.

 

How to tell when a flash piece is finished? My take on this is when I know I cannot take another word out without losing something invaluable to the characters/story. As for adding words, again the same criteria applies because you can, to use the English phrase, “over-egg” the pudding and ruin it.

As I mentioned yesterday, I have to justify to myself why I’ve included anything in my story. If I’m not convinced if something is necessary, then a reader is likely to feel the same way. I don’t want them switching off as a result.

When looking back at my earlier stories, I can see now how I could improve these but that is the point. That was the stage of writing I was at then. I have moved on since and rightly so too. I want to try and keep on improving on what I do. That attitude helps fuel my imagination and creativity and I am all for that. I don’t think any writer can feel they’ve “made it”. There are always ways to develop your characters further and to come up with other interesting situations to dump them in. That is the fun bit!

May be an image of 1 person and text that says "Wm ( S)TOP LEARNING Good idea. It can be great fun though getting your characters to learn their lessons the hard way. Makes for good drama."

Flash fiction is the definition of Less is More being true but it is nice being able to exploit that to maximum effect. This is another reason why knowing the last line first is such an effective device for writing flash. If I’m given a prompt which could be an opening or a closing line, I nearly always make it the last one for this reason. I’ve got the impact in that line so where best to place it? Often it is at the end.

Sometimes a story simply does work better at 300 words, say, rather than 100. Usually there are factors such as more in depth characterisation adding to the story which you would not want to lose. My basis for editing any piece of my work is if it adds something to useful to the story and moves it on in some way it stays in. If not, out it comes. So part of my editing process is to go through my story line by line and query its worthiness to be included. I have to be able to justify its inclusion.

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Goodreads Author Blog – Book Wish Lists

It is the right time of year to start thinking about book wish lists (assuming you don’t have an all year round one. The advantage of the latter is it covers birthdays, anniversaries, feel like a new book days etc). I don’t have a wish list for my Kindle. If there’s a book I’m after for that, I just get it.

But I will be compiling my annual list for the family to pick books from for me for Christmas. That’s always fun to put together. I go for a mixture of hardbacks and paperbacks. Some will be books I’ve been after for a while. Others are recent releases I like the look of – and often detective novels at that. I also make a point in checking out non-fiction releases as I’ve found some gems there.

So what it is that makes you put a book on your own wish list? For me the story is the lure. If I like the sound of it, on to the wish list it goes, whether it is by a big name author or not. Some are the latest in a series I’ve become fond of and others are stand alones. As long as I like the sound of the tale and the characters, I’m putting it on my list.

The nice thing about lists is it is a win-win for my loved ones too. I am easy to buy for! Mind you, I think most writers are. There are always books or stationery items we want. No good asking for an agent or a publishing deal though – you’re on your own for those!

 

 

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Learning From Our Favourite Characters

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 weekend. This week sees my latest author newsletter go out and my taking part in Flash NANO for the first time. Weather all over the place here though we still have gorgeous autumn colours to enjoy (the photo below was taken by me during my Northumberland holiday only a couple of weeks ago).

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Where does the time go? Mind you, it wasn’t hard to believe it’s November today. I’ve had heavy rain, gales, hail, all sorts here and that was by lunchtime today! Lady got to have a bonus play with her best buddy today so she was well pleased.

Author newsletter went out today. Received my first Flash NANO prompt which I plan to write up later this evening.

I’ll be reviewing Sherlock Holmes and The Mystery of Mallen Hall for Chandler’s Ford Today on Friday. Always a joy to go and watch The Chameleon Theatre Group. Looking forward to going to their pantomime (Pinocchio the Pantomime) in January – oh yes I am!

Oh and big news – I’ve booked my place for The Swanwick Writers’ Summer School, very much being an ”early bird”. If you want to know more about Swanwick, do check their website out.


Screenshot 2022-11-01 at 20-24-19 Swanwick Writers' Summer School

Hope you have had a good start to the week. Lady got to play with her best buddy today, the Rhodesian Ridgeback., so those two went home tired but happy. Went out at the right time too – the heavens opened at lunchtime!

Looking forward to taking part in Flash NANO which starts tomorrow. Good luck to everyone taking part in that and in the NaNoWriMo. Hope you all get plenty written. I’m hoping to write to as many of the prompts as I can with the idea being these might go forward to a future collection of mine.

Separately, don’t forget I send out my author newsletter on the first of the month so do head over to my landing page at https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com if you would like to catch the next one “hot off the presses”, so to speak, given it goes out tomorrow. I often share flash tips etc here.

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Hope you have had a good weekend. Did appreciate the extra hour’s lie-in this morning as clocks went back in the UK. Even the dog welcomed it!

Many thanks for the fabulous comments coming in on The Caterpillar and The Zebra, my latest tale on Friday Flash Fiction.

I’ll be reviewing Sherlock Holmes and The Mystery of Mallen Hall for Chandler’s Ford Today on Friday. It was great to see The Chameleon Theatre Group on stage again.

Also a big thanks for the comments coming in on Learning from Our Favourite Characters, my most recent blog post for More than Writers (the Association of Christian Writers’ blog spot).

Will be pretty busy preparing interview questions for CFT for a couple of lovely authors soon. More details on these interviews nearer the time. Once nice thing about it getting darker sooner in the evenings is that it gives me even more incentive to stay at my desk writing away!

 

It’s my turn on the blog spot for the Association of Christian Writers. For More Than Writers this month, I look at Learning from Our Favourite Characters. For one thing, you can figure out whether you would make the choices they do in the book you’re reading. One of the joys of being a writer is you get to read more too and you can learn so much from what else you read, whether it is contemporary or classic, fiction or non-fiction.

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Received my first Flash NANO prompt and am looking forward to writing that up later. Plan for the month is to write up as many of the prompts as possible. I’ll be worrying about editing in December!

One of the most sensible pieces of writing advice I’ve received (and act on) is to write the story first and worry about editing later. See them as two separate tasks.

That has helped me so much. It means I don’t “hamstring” myself trying to get the first sentence right. I just get the story written and then look at ways to improve it. There always are ways!

Writing Advice

It’s Monday. It’s a darker than normal Monday too – not because of Halloween but because the clocks went back in the UK yesterday! It bucketed down with rain at lunchtime. And it remains Monday. Definitely time for a story on YouTube then. This one, Past Writings, is inspired by a random theme generator and the theme which came up was that of old notebooks. It’s a complete contrast to my zebra video last week (and again a huge thanks for the views coming in on that).

 

I’ve signed up to take part in Flash NANO which begins on 1st November. You receive 30 prompts over 30 days and it is up to you how many stories you write up. If you want to find out more about this head over to Nancy Stohlman’s site at https://nancystohlman.com/flashnano/

Am looking forward to this. Should be fun. And talking of flash fiction, I am glad to say the November issue of Mom’s Favorite Reads is now out and I’m talking about Twists in Flash Fiction this time. Also check out the wonderful stories that came in as a result of my challenge.


One simple thing any reader can do to help a writer is to review their books. Doesn’t need to be a long review. Just needs to be honest and to the point for the book in question. On that note, I’m delighted to have received another five star review for Tripping the Flash Fantastic. See screenshot. Many thanks to #JoyWood.

Also, there is no “use by” date for these things. Yes, they are especially helpful at the time of a book launch but any author will welcome helpful reviews whenever they come in.

This review mentions signed copies of my books. I’m always pleased to sign my books for people. Just get in contact with me via https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com and we can take things from there.

Screenshot 2022-10-29 at 16-31-50 Tripping the Flash Fantastic eBook Symes Allison Amazon.co.uk Kindle Store

Goodreads Author Blog – The ABC of Books Part 2 – N to Z

It’s time for Part 2 of my alphabetical celebration of books.

N = New and old books – read both and have a great reading “diet”.

O = Open up your reading diet to include genres new to you – this is where I’m glad I have many writing friends. I like to read what they bring out. It’s wonderfully entertaining and I’ve got to read books this way I might not otherwise have come across.

P = Paperbacks and the Penguin. Paperbacks are my favourite format and Penguin opened these up for so many – definitely worth celebrating that.

Q = Quirky fiction. Plenty of room for that in the book world – and often it is the quirky books or characters that grab the attention. Who would have thought a trilogy about a brave hobbit would take off?

R = Reading – and across formats as well as genres. Stories can be taken in via the printed word, audio, etc. Enjoy them all.

S = Stories. This is what books give us – yes, even non-fiction. Why? Because in a non-fiction book, the “story” is you finding out something you had not known before on a topic that has grabbed your interest. Or has increased your knowledge on it.

T = Trailers for books. These are great fun and a fabulous way of giving a teaser to a book. I’m all for getting the word about books out there and this is another way to do that.

U = Universes, yes plural. Fabulous books take you into a world of their own (whether it is set here, back in time, or a fantasy planet somewhere). You should lose yourself in a good book!

V = Voice. A good book will show you the author’s voice through their characters and will enthrall you. You’ll look out for more by that writer hopefully too.

W = Words, the powerhouse of books. Books impact you through words, the way the author has put them together, what they get their characters to say and do. The words of characters stay in your memory. Words, and therefore books, are powerful.

X = X marks the spot found in classic pirate fiction such as Treasure Island, and that leads me on to saying (e)xcellence in fiction, especially children’s fiction will encourage a life long love of reading. How do I know? It happened for me!

Y = Young Adult fiction. I am so glad this category exists now. It didn’t really when I was growing up. I did find myself between categories and I’d have loved the YA range. Also a great way to keep people reading and I’m all for that too.

Z = Zestful books – the kind that keep you reading all night. The books that are hard to put down even when you have finished reading them. The very best books of all!

Screenshot 2022-10-29 at 20-39-26 The ABC of Books - Part 2 - N to Z

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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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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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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).

BookBrushImage-2022-7-28-20-211

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?

BookBrushImage-2022-7-29-20-38

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?

BookBrushImage-2022-7-29-20-727

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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.

BookBrushImage-2022-7-24-16-1510

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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