Crossing Paths with Jenny Sanders, Autumnal Matters, and Cat Chat

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. A huge thank you to Jenny Sanders for supplying author, book, and other pictures for Part 1 of a great interview with her on Chandler’s Ford Today. I also share my latest Author Electric post about autumn and a fun tale (or should that be tail?) which is my latest offering on Friday Flash Fiction. Hope you have had a good week. Have had some nice autumn days here after a right wash-out earlier this week.

BookBrushImage-2022-11-18-19-249

Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today – and Authors Electric

18th November 2022 – 1st Post – CFT
Not one but two blogs to share tonight. First up is Chandler’s Ford Today and I am delighted to welcome Jenny Sanders to the interviewee’s “chair” for Part 1 of a fabulous conversation. This week Jenny shares her lifelong love of books and stories and her earlier career in television (which in itself showed her a lot about putting stories together, a fabulous learning experience for any writer).

Jenny and I cross paths, writing wise, in a number of ways and that is shared here too. Next week she’ll be sharing more about her short story, devotional, and flash fiction writing (just one of many of those “crossed paths” for Jenny and I!).

Crossing Paths with Jenny Sanders – Part 1

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

18th November – 2nd post – Authors Electric

My second blog to share tonight is my monthly post on Authors Electric. Aptly, I talk about Autumnal Reading and Writing. I share my love of autumn, ask if you choose books according to season, and celebrate the one positive about the longer, darker evenings (in my part of the world at least). I find I get more writing and reading done! Do share your thoughts on the season and how it affects you reading and writing wise over on the AE comments box.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Now today was the kind of autumn day I love – dry, not too cold, sunny, and dry. (I mention that again as on Tuesday Lady and I were anything but dry for a lot of the day!).

Looking forward to sharing Part 1 of a fabulous interview with Jenny Sanders on Chandler’s Ford Today. Link up tomorrow. See above.

I’ll be interviewing other authors well into December too so do keep an eye out for these. I always learn a lot from author interviews I read and listen to so hope you do with these great posts coming up. (Many thanks to everyone taking part in them too).

I’ll also be sharing a lovely autumnal post on Authors Electric tomorrow so double bubble for Friday!

Am looking forward to the Bridge House Publishing event on 3rd December. (Hope to report back on that for CFT in due course and my January 2023 newsletter).

Writing Tip: People often talk abut focusing on the senses in fiction writing and it is a great idea but why not just pick one and focus your strory on that? If you decide to focus on hearing, for example, you can focus on what sounds mean the most to your lead character and why these matter. A piece of music could remind them of their lost love etc.

No photo description available.

Lady was delighted to have a good old run-around with her best friend, the Rhodesian Ridgeback today. All before the weather closed in later so win-win there. I knew her pal was out because Lady tugged me most of the way to the park and she doesn’t do that for anyone else!

On Chandler’s Ford Today this week, I’ll be sharing Part 1 of an interview called Crossing Paths with Jenny Sanders. Jenny and I do cross writing paths a lot. More on that on Friday when the post goes live. She’ll also be talking about her writing life and her previous life in television. Looking forward to sharing that. See above (and Part 2 next week is also fab so stay tuned).

Friday is one of those days when I will have a second blog post up so I will have two Facebook posts up then. The other blog coming up is for Authors Electric and I’ll be talking about Autumnal Reading and Writing which is definitely topical in my part of the world! Again, see above. Every so often my various blogs “collide” and end up on one day!

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

I’m delighted to share my latest tale on Friday Flash Fiction though maybe I should’ve written that as tail! Why? Because my new story is called Cat Chat. Hope you enjoy it, whether you own a cat (or any other pet) or not.

Screenshot 2022-11-18 at 16-56-02 Cat Chat by Allison Symes

Have recently submitted a festive flash fiction piece – will report back it if gets anywhere. When I write flash, my starting point can be:-

1. Respond to a prompt (Flash NANO is brilliant here).

2. I know the mood of the story I want to write – humour, serious, crime etc.

3. I have a promising opening line (something I brainstormed previously) I now want to write up.

4. I have a promising closing line (again brainstormed ages ago) I now want to write up.

5. I want a stock of stories I can use for various competitions, including open theme ones so I will write something that could fit the categories I know interest me. I also write up stories I know could fit an open theme.

6. I can “hear” a character’s voice in my head and know I’ve got to write their story up.

7. Am responding to a challenge set by something I’ve used a random generator to create. Bear in mind I have no way of knowing in advance what will come up. What I can do is set parameters (and I have found generating a couple of things at a time works best for me).

8. Occasionally a writer friend will set a challenge and I respond to that. I have written a story called The Inside of a Ping Pong Ball based on that challenge. (Hello #WendyHJones!).

9. I have a promising title (again brainstormed earlier) I now want to do something with – and so I do.

10. Something catches my eye or ear when I’m out and about and I will think I’ve got to do something with that. I have used snippets of overheard conversation as a starting point for a story but done in such a way that the original speaker would never know.

11. Books of prompts (some of which I’ve contributed to in my time) are also handy.

12. Something I’ve read inspires me and triggers other ideas so I have to find out what my characters would do with them. I love the classic fairytales and they often inspire me to come up with humorous flash pieces.

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. 2®0 -"

Hope you have had a good day. Looking forward to having a go at today’s Flash NANO challenge later on this evening. Yesterday’s challenge was to cut a story in half and I’ve picked an old 2000 worder tale of mine. My goal will be to get that down to 1000, the top end of flash fiction. Can’t do that quickly though.

What I hope I will do is have it done by the end of the Flash NANO challenge on 30th November. I have done this kind of exercise before. It gets harder the more you have to cut down! Its advantage is it does make you get to the core of the story and focus on that.

May be an image of text that says "goe Ludwig Mie more es is Less Less Mies an Rohe Less is more could be THE anthem for all flash fiction writers."

Fairytales with Bite – Stories and Songs

Stories and songs have massive roles to play in most cultures so how would this work out in your fictional setting? What stories and songs would your characters enjoy? Equally which do they have to endure because it’s more than their life’s worth not to do so (and possibly literally there too)?

Are storytellers and bards etc respected? Are your society’s current generation of writers respected for what they do? Have modern stories and songs gone into popular culture and are expected to live on for other generations or are these “of the moment”?

Are there any restrictions on which stories and songs your characters are allowed to enjoy? If so, why are these restrictions in palce and who brought them in? Is there any kind of underground movement where people/beings of choice can enjoy these forbidden stories and songs?

Do you use the influence of the stories and songs you love to influence what your characters are likely to enjoy or do you go for the complete opposite here? Either could work!

BookBrushImage-2022-11-18-20-448

This World and Others – Culture

Culture is a huge topic but how does your fictional world react to it? Is it proud of its culture or embarrassed by it? Does it look down on the cultures of others or use the best ideas from those other worlds to improve its own? History can often come into play in responses to culture. There can be elements of culture that are “covered up” or deliberately forgotten especially if it makes a country look dreadful. Is there anything your own world’s setting would deliberately not bring out in the open?

Also within the arts, are certain things appreciated more than others? For example, is anything audio-related more appreciated than visual media because your fictional species hear better than they see? What factors have led to your world having the culture it does? How has your world’s culture changed over time and what history has led to that happening? If you think about our own world, we can all think of, say, humour, that would have worked thirty years ago but definitely wouldn’t now.

BookBrushImage-2022-11-18-20-1022

Twitter icon

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

The Continued Times of Isabella M Smugge – Ruth Leigh Interview Part 1


Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Many thanks to Ruth Leigh for providing author and book cover photos. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes.
Hope you have had a good week. Why is it that the first week back after a holiday is frenetic? Am not sorry to have got to Friday! As well as Part 1 of Ruth’s interview, I share my latest Friday Flash Fiction tale, a belated Authors Electric post from me, and look at magical shopping, as you do. It won’t be the kind of shopping Ruth’s fabulous character, Isabella M Smugge, would go in for though!

BookBrushImage-2022-10-21-19-5432

Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

Am thrilled to welcome Ruth Leigh back to Chandler’s Ford Today for the first part of a two-part interview. Ruth launches the third of her Isabella M Smugge series tomorrow with The Continued Times of Isabella M Smugge.

In tonight‘s post, Ruth and I discuss her launch, how easy or otherwise does Ruth find coming up with stories for her leading lady, and about keeping track on what a writer needs to know about their recurring characters. Readers do pick up on discrepancies.

Next week we’ll be looking at marketing amongst other topics. And if you haven’t checked out Isabella’s adventures to date, you are in for a treat when you do.

Ruth Leigh and The Continued Times of Isabella M Smugge – Part 1

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Many apologies, folks, but I forgot to share my latest Authors Electric post which came out on 18th October. This time I talked about Writing Exercises and Why I Love Them. (It’s as well many blogs have a limited word count. I could give chapter and verse on this topic as I have had, and continue to have, a lot of fun with various writing exercises. Several of my published stories started life as a writing exercise challenge).

Screenshot 2022-10-21 at 09-25-08 Writing Exercises and Why I Love Them by Allison Symes

Writing Tip 4,007 or thereabouts: Deliberately mix up the type of book you read as well as the genre. I mix up reading novels (across genres), flash and short collections, and non-fiction. I also ensure I read magazines (especially writing related ones). Ideas for flash stories have sparked for me by reading non-fiction and other genres of books. I see it as feeding the creative mind. Give it a good banquet! You don’t have to worry about calories here!

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Am pleased to see some familiar names on Friday Flash Fiction this week.

Am also pleased to have my latest story, Hope, on there. The opening line here is something I adapted from a random line generator (and one used for poetry as a rule too).

This is another bonus to using these things. You can use exactly what comes up or tweak it as you see fit and you still get new story ideas. Hope you like this week’s tale. Find out what happens when a vicar and one of her grumpy parishioners discover there is hope out there.

Screenshot 2022-10-21 at 09-23-17 Hope by Allison Symes

It was great to see everyone at last night’s Flash Fiction group meeting (ACW). Much fun was had as we looked at titles and I hope people to get to write up stories to one or two of the ideas generated.

I jotted down ideas for myself too here. I often don’t prepare answers to homework I set in advance. I want to do do “live writing” too! It’s fun and really gets the cogs whirring! Where I do prepare homework in advance, it is because I want to use how I did it as an illustration. I’ve learned so much myself from when authors break their stories down like that.

Am busy getting next author newsletter ready to go out on the 1st. I share flash fiction tips here as well as links to my stories online. If you would like to sign up please head over to the landing page of my website at https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com – would be good to have you “aboard”.

Newsletter advert - share tips etc

Will be looking at titles as part of the Association of Christian Writers Flash Fiction Group meeting tonight. Titles are your first advert whether you’re writing an epic fantasy for a 100-word drabble. I find I have to have a working title to get started on my pieces but it often change. It often happens a better title idea will occur as I’m drafting a piece. I just make a note of the new idea and compare it with my original one. I change it if it is better. Only the Ten Commandments were set in stone, folks!

Fairytales With Bite – Magical Shopping

Where does your average magical character go to get their shopping and what would they shop for? I can see potential for some humorous fantasy stories here. Meanwhile here are some thoughts to be going on with

Fairy Godmother – Almost certainly going to head to the grocers to get anything but pumpkin.

Dwarves – The DIY store for reinforced shovels and picks. Well, that gold won’t get itself dug, will it?

Wizard – The employment agency for a “proper” apprentice (and possibly the DIY store for bigger buckets).

Witch – Again the grocers probably fotr the shiniest red apples she can find. Also the arts and crafts shop for needles and sewing equipment (and tips for where to get a spinning wheel in this modern day and age).

Dragon – The bank. All the gold in there is simply going to waste. Said dragon will liberate it to sit on it. Also if there was anywhere that sold dwarf repellent the dragon would consider shopping for it. Saves flaming the perishers every time they try to raid the dragon’s gold. Dragons have a simple concept of ownership. A bit like cats really.

BookBrushImage-2022-10-21-20-4634

This World and Others – Business and Commerce

In your fictional setting, what does the world of business and commerce look like? What is traded? What is imported? What does your world have to import and what does it consider luxuries?

Also, are there certain things only the elite can have and what would happen if the “ordinary people/beings” found out about that? Could they be in a position to protest/rebel, especially if what was considered a luxury was something we would rightly consider to be a basic necessity?

Is there a trading sector in your setting? How is it made up? What, if any, regulation is it subject to and how is any regulation enforced? Would your world trade in magical skills? If so which would they be happy to trade and which would they keep strictly to themselves?

What kind of business would the “ordinary” folk in your setting do? Are there ways to improve on what they can do? Is magic valued more highly than working with your hands or in trading as we would on Earth? What do the ordinary folk make of their business sectors?

BookBrushImage-2022-10-21-20-5215

Twitter Corner (2)

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

Goodbye to A Great Lady

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.
I spent a lot of Monday, 19th September 2022, along with so many others, watching the funeral of Her Late Majesty, Queen Elizabeth. I share some thoughts on that below but there was no way I could call this post anything else. She truly was a great lady. Goodbye for now, Ma’am. We will meet again.

 

Facebook – General

20th September 2022
Most moving moments for me watching the Queen’s funeral yesterday were the corgis, the pony, and the tolling of Big Ben. Have never heard that. (Last time it would definitely have been done would have been for the funeral of the Queen’s father, King George VI. I don’t know if was done for the state funeral of Sir Winston Churchill).

Writing wise, don’t forget to use the senses when you can do so in your fiction. We get our characters seeing things, sometimes hearing them, but don’t neglect the senses of touch, taste, and smell. These should figure “naturally” in your story. If your character is in a cafe, we’d expect them to smell food, drink coffee etc.

Many thanks for the lovely comments coming in on Times Past, my story on Friday Flash Fiction. Link here if you missed it – and do let me know what you think of Granny Mary.


Screenshot 2022-09-09 at 09-12-26 On That Day by Allison Symes

 

19th September 2022 – The Funeral of Queen Elizabeth

The late Queen’s funeral was a moving and beautiful tribute to her. I thought the Archbishop of Canterbury’s sermon was wonderful and the music and processions were just stunning. The flowers were so lovely.

I salute all those who worked so hard behind the scenes on this.

My thoughts and prayers go out to King Charles and the Royal Family,

Long live the King.

BookBrushImage-2022-9-19-20-1850

BookBrushImage-2022-9-9-20-2021

18th September – bonus post – Authors Electric
Apologies folks – I almost forgot to share my latest post on Authors Electric. I talk about Creative Non-Fiction, which is one of the courses I went to during my week away at the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School back in August. Hope you find it useful.


Screenshot 2022-09-18 at 20-36-49 Creative Non-Fiction by Allison Symes

18th September 2022
Am glad the weather is keeping okay for The Queue. Not surprised they’re shutting it later on – I hope everyone gets to go through okay. It is kind of bizarre to think of shutting a queue though! Only in Britain I suspect… I did watch a little of the live streaming from Westminster Hall yesterday and found watching it very moving.

I’ll be looking at Looking Back for Chandler’s Ford Today later this week. I usually do write an autumnal reflection piece at some point in September or October for CFT and it seemed apt do to this now.

I look back at my decades on this planet with some of the major events from the late Queen’s time and discuss why momentous moments should make us take time out to reflect. We need that time before we can move on. More on Friday.

How do you get your characters to show emotion? I tend to use their dialogue – there are certain things you would say when upset, angry etc that you would not say at other times. I also use gestures.

I can sometimes get other characters to bluntly ask Character A something along the lines of “what the hell is wrong with you?” etc. The important point though is I am showing and not telling here and you can mix up how you do this to keep things fresh and interesting for a reader.

17th September 2022
It is touching seeing The Queue – am glad the weather is keeping okay – at least it is dry! I was told that the Salvation Army are out there issuing out 1000 cups of tea an hour. That has to be a record, hasn’t it? It’s an apt one that’s for sure!

My late mother always used to say if tea was alcoholic, she’d never be sober but I don’t think even she could’ve brewed, yet alone drunk, so much tea in that kind of time scale!

Many thanks for the comments coming in on Times Past, my latest story on Friday Flash Fiction. Link given further up. This story is in letter format. I use this every now and again. It’s a great form for a “two-handed” story with two characters only (and one of them can be “off stage”). It is effectively an all dialogue kind of tale so you need to ensure your lead here has a strong voice. Here, I think you’ll visualise Granny Mary well from what she says in her letter.

BookBrushImage-2022-9-20-20-5923

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

20th September 2022
A day later this week for obvious reasons. Hope you enjoy my latest story on YouTube – Precious.

19th September 2022 – The Funeral of Queen Elizabeth

Whenever there are big occasions, there are stand out moments. These will be the things you treasure. The Queen’s funeral had so many of these moments though seeing the corgis and Her Late Majesty’s pony was an emotional moment.

The beauty of Westminster Abbey and St. George’s Chapel, Windsor were amazing.

And I had to smile a little as the state hearse left London via Chiswick (the A4) and the flyover there. When we used to visit my late father’s family in London, we would often come into the capital that way. Lost count of the number of times we passed by Fuller’s Brewery.

It was lovely to see the flowers on the road and on the hearse too.

God bless the late Queen.

Long live the King.

BookBrushImage-2022-9-19-20-2810

18th September 2022

Looking forward to the Association of Christian Writers Flash Fiction Group meeting held online which will be next week. Always good fun and it has been lovely seeing some of those taking part having stories out there – more power to your pens and laptops, folks!

The great thing with flash is what with the competitions and online and other magazines out there taking this material, we do have more opportunities to build up a track record in being published. That is likely to come in handy I would’ve thought!

And, of course, you can build up a collection of stories too – the indie press is very much your friend here. I must admit this is where I find having a subscription to a writing magazine is useful – I can spot the competitions and markets that might be of interest to me more easily and it proves to be a most enjoyable read while I’m having my lunch so win-win there!

BookBrushImage-2022-9-18-16-2845

17th September 2022
Flash is great for humorous tales. It is equally great for twist ones and those stories which manage to make you catch your breath (the “punch in the gut” ones as I like to think of them). So as well as writing different genres, you can mix up the moods of your tales too. This is a huge advantage to having a form of fiction which has to be character led. The mood for the story is led by them and the situation you put them in.

I also feel where I’m writing a story with emotional depth to it such as my Judgement Day in Tripping the Flash Fantastic, then keeping the story short helps with that impact enormously. I’m not diluting it. Also who says you need thousands of words to get a serious point across? It is not necessarily so!

BookBrushImage-2022-9-17-20-1345

Goodreads Author Blog – Stand Out Moments

What are your favourite stand out moments in fiction?

In Pride and Prejudice for me it is where Elizabeth meets Mr Darcy again at Pemberley. You just know at that point somehow things are going to be sorted out between them. It is a question of finding out how.

For The Lord of the Rings it is when Sam Gamgee eavesdrops Gandalf’s conversation with Frodo, is hauled in, and is determined to go with his boss, no matter what. You just know at that point Frodo is going to be glad of Sam accompanying him – and so it proves.

Sometimes the pivot point in the book is the stand out moment for me. But in both Pride and Prejudice and The Lord of the Rings, there are several stand out moments. You can’t beat seeing the Ring of Power going into Mount Doom after all but that can’t happen without the earlier stand out moment.

Can there be stand out moments in non-fiction? I think so. It is usually that point where something is shown to you that you’d not realised before and you learn something new or have a theory you had confirmed or challenged (either work. The moment that makes you change your view or have it confirmed is what you remember).

The ultimate stand out moment though is the one that made you glad to have read the book!

Screenshot 2022-09-17 at 20-25-54 Stand Out Moments

 

Twitter Corner

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

Interview – Val Penny – and Swanwick Part 2

Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Many thanks to Val Penny for supplying the book and author photos for my interview with her on Chandler’s Ford Today. Photos from the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School, including one of Val about to give her excellent Promoting Your Work talk (see CFT post), were all taken by me, Allison Symes. You do know who to blame! And a HUGE thank you to Jennifer C Wilson for taking the photos of me about to lead my session at Swanwick and of me signing my books. It is SO hard to take that kind of shot yourself!! Another lovely thing about Swanwick is we all happily do this for each other – the sharing and kindness here is amazing.

Feature Image - Val Penny - The Hunter Wilson Series and Blog Tours20220818_130622
Facebook – General and Chandler’s Ford Today

Safely back home after a fabulous time at Swanwick, I hope to report more on that for Chandler’s Ford Today next week.

Today though I share a great interview with Scottish crime writer, Val Penny, a fellow Swanwicker. Val shares news of her recent book release and we have a fab chat about blog tours, keeping notes about your characters’ main characteristics, marketing and other topics. Hope you enjoy it and it was lovely to catch up with Val again in person this last week. Until next year, Val!

Val Penny: The Hunter Wilson Series and Blog Tours

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Am pleased to share my latest blog on Authors Electric. Aptly I talk about Holiday Reading and Writing.

The four part course on Creative Non-Fiction ended today. So useful. I then went on to the Writing Comedy short course led by Rob Gee.

Later this afternoon, it will be time for the Swanwick Annual General Meeting. The main event on the last full day is the famous Swanwick Farewell and Awards evening which is always great fun. It was too!

Am I planning to be back next year? Oh yes!

Screenshot 2022-08-18 at 13-48-54 Holiday Reading and Writing by Allison Symes

Well, the temperature has cooled here in Derbyshire. We have had rain! Nobody sorry about that.
I resumed the Creative Non-Fiction specialist course led by Simon Whaley and then went on to the Historical Fiction course led by Jennifer C Wilson. I write some historical fiction flash stories and it is an area I would like to write more in – the scope is huge!

I’m planning to finish my afternoon by going to the Cracking the Cryptic Crossword one hour workshop led by Vivien Brown. I love crosswords. I can’t get cryptics so I thought this could be useful for when I want to unwind with word games, as I often do. It was great fun and an eye-opener.

There’s a fancy dress evening later. Am not really into that myself but it will be fun seeing what costumes people come up with for the theme of Another Night at the Movies.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

So back at home and back to the writing routine. (I have to have one to get any writing done at all). I hope to resume writing for Friday Flash Fiction and my YouTube channel from next week.

Swanwick set a competition for us while we’re there. I did send in a 150 word story. It didn’t get placed but I loved writing it, will look at it again and see where else I can submit it – I do know there will be somewhere!

I’ve sometimes gone on to have work published that way. And I’m fine with the sometimes by the way, simply because nobody hits a perfect 100% hit rate in writing/being published/being placed.

Delighted to sign Tripping the Flash Fantastic for fellow authors while at Swanwick. It is always a special thing. When I first started writing anything seriously, I knew nobody in the writing world. It is now a great joy to have many writing friends, some of whom I’ve met in person and others I’ve met just online.

I’ve learned so much chatting to other writers, including finding out about flash fiction and I’ve never regretted discovering that!

 

My week at the fantastic Swanwick Writers’ Summer School went by in a flash. It always does. Fabulous fun, caught up with old friends, got chatting to people new to Swanwick, learned so much from the courses and workshops, and enjoyed taking part.

I did take part again in the Open Prose Mic Night. Again fun to do and flash fiction works well for this. Loved listening to the Open Poetry Mic Night too.

For the prose night, I picked my linked flash tales – Mishaps and Jumping Time from Tripping the Flash Fantastic this time. Pleased to say they did get laugh but then my hapless time travelling alien in these stories does have that coming. Honest!

 

One thing I’ve learned over the years is to not rush a submission to a short story or flash competition. You always do need more editing time than you think. So I factor this in to my schedule and aim to submit my work about a fortnight before the deadline, having carried out all editing necessary including that important final check to ensure you have got all the typos out etc.

Can a judge tell if a competition entry has been rushed?
Oh yes.

What you want is for your work to be so polished the judge knows you haven’t rushed at all and you’ve given yourself plenty of time to ensure all is as good as you can make it. The little details matter here too.

Planning does not have to kill spontaneity - just work out what you need to know, you don't need to plan everything

Fairytales with Bite – The Creative Arts

What kind of creative arts would your fairytale world have? Would it be an area where magic was banned? I can’t see how much fun it would be if you were allowed to whip out your magic wand, say a quick spell and, hey presto, you’ve produced a stunning picture or a brilliant book. I would want things to be created “properly”, else where is the joy of the creative process?

Naturally I think of stories and books first for the arts world, followed by music, especially classical, as my two big art interests are there. What are your arts interests and could you bring them in somehow to the world you’re creating in your stories? What would be different in your magical world in this sphere?

Often we think of fairytales as those stories we read as children/had read to us. What would your magical world’s equivalent be? Do they tell tales about dodgy humans getting their comeuppance thanks to a heroic magical character, say?

Life is made up of the basic necessity to survive naturally, but what about the other elements of a well rounded life, which include the creative arts? How are those represented in your stories?

BookBrushImage-2022-8-19-20-191

This World and Others – Values

What values does your fictional world have in common with this one? Which ones are literally alien and why have these values been established? (That may well shed a great deal of light on the characters of your aliens – do they agree with these values or not?).

Values get established over time so how long did it take your world to come up with the ones it has? Are there sections of the community which don’t hold with these values at all and what do they do about this? Passive resistance or something much more active? Are they right to take the view they do?

Bear in mind your characters, wherever they are set, do not need to share your values. I’ve written pieces where I am at odds with my characters and that’s fine. But you still do need to understand why your characters, of whatever species, hold the values they do. There will be reasons for this. Okay, they may not be great ones but they will make sense to your fictional world and characters.

BookBrushImage-2022-8-19-20-2347

Twitter icon

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

Characters You Love and Loathe

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. Very, very hot here in the UK right now. Lady and I keeping things as cool as possible. Take care, everyone.

BookBrushImage-2022-7-19-20-301

Facebook – General

Had a lovely swim earlier today. Came back to my car, parked beautifully in the shade and discovered the internal temperature was 38ºC! Am grateful for air con to cool things down quickly. Much quieter day for Lady today (and no car travel for her on days like this either). She has not been sorry about that. Am not a fan of excessive heat (due to the dog and being asthmatic myself).

Still it is relatively cool at my desk so I write on. Many thanks for the great comments which have come in on my Authors Electric post yesterday. It seems my dislike of a certain Jane Austen character has caused comments – good! See link below.

Do I dislike any of my own characters? Oh yes. There are a few I definitely wouldn’t want to meet for real. But that’s how it should be I think. I should be able to come up with unlikeable characters as well as the ones who I am obviously going to root for. Otherwise crime writers, for one example, would never to be to write up their villains would they?

AE - July 2022 - Working out what you dislike can be useful

For Authors Electric this month, I look at Characters You Love and Loathe. Many thanks for the great comments coming in on this one already. Let’s just say I make my dislike of one particular Austen character clear – what do you think about her?

I go on to look at why characters make or break a story and why I have to see where they are coming from. It doesn’t mean I have to agree with their actions though. But I do have to be gripped by a character to enjoy their story.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Hope you’re enjoying a nice relaxed Sunday. Am looking forward to sharing my new Authors Electric post tomorrow. See above. Later on in the week will be my penultimate post in my In Fiction series for Chandler’s Ford Today. I’ll be looking at Your Lead Character in Fiction for that. I’ll also be including a mini quiz in the post. And yes I have thought of something for the letter Z when it comes around soon. Phew!

Looking forward to being back at the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School in August. Will be lovely to catch up with friends and make new ones. I’ll be running a one hour workshop there on Editing – Both Sides of the Fence. Would like the weather to be nice but not so hot for all of that though.

And now on to some flash fiction writing – for me Sunday is story time. Hope to share the results later in the week.

Keeping as cool as possible here. Lady doing likewise. It’s about the only time Lady is sensible, bless her. I did go through the drought of 1976 and my abiding memory of that time is of the government appointing a Droughts Minister. Within the week, the heavens opened! Wonder if we’ll see that again.

A big thank you for the lovely comments in on Cookie Surprise, my latest story on Friday Flash Fiction. This is probably as close as I’ll get to writing anything connected to children’s literature. Am so enjoying using various random generators to trigger story ideas for FFF and my YouTube channel. The generators are great for making you think outside of your usual box and I highly recommend using them.

Screenshot 2022-07-15 at 16-53-16 Cookie Surprise by Allison Symes

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Even hotter here today. Lady and I are definitely not keen on it. The impact of the hot weather is being felt everywhere and I do hope those fires are soon put out. Take care everyone.

A more positive impact is the impact of your flash pieces on your readers. What do you want to make your readers feel?

If you want to make them laugh (always a laudable aim), how will you do it? Is your chosen character up to the job? They don’t need to be out and out funny in themselves but capable of producing laughter in others. This is where pompous characters work so well. They kind of set themselves up for a fall almost and that is where we get the laughs.

Equally serious characters who come out with unfortunate turns of phrase where everyone around them laughs but they themselves don’t can also work well.

Funny characters come out of situations

Very hot in my part of the world today – Lady all okay but doesn’t like the heat much. Has spent a lot of the day chilling out.

I don’t tend to use the weather in my stories much. This is because I’m wary of imitating the old infamous beginning to a story “It was a dark and stormy night…”, which is NOT held up as an example of fine writing. Quite the opposite in fact! I really don’t want to go down that route for story telling.

I would also rather show you the weather by how my characters act. I would rather you saw my characters shivering or slapping on the old sunscreen. You can also use the other senses here – characters can be listening to the rainfall. They can taste snow on their tongues etc. They can feel the hail hitting them (and trust me I’ve done that a number of times when out with Lady, it can hurt).

There are ways to bring the weather into stories in ways which won’t switch your reader off or run the risk of you being put up for a bad writing award!

BookBrushImage-2022-7-18-20-140

One lovely thing about creative writing is it can encourage empathy. I do have to understand where my characters are coming from to be able to write their stories up. I have to be able to imagine how they would feel, act, and/or react in any given circumstances.

But the nice thing with empathy is it doesn’t have to be confined to writing stories. The world could always do with lots of it!

The creative arts as as whole can be therapeutic for the people doing them but it can spread wider than that. I hope fiction does help spread empathy.

I’ve only written a couple of characters where I have no sympathy for them at all (these tend to be my darker tales) but even there I understand why the characters are the way they are. I don’t have to approve though! And this is one very good reason why you should never judge the author by their work! (This is just as well for the horror writers I think!).

 

I occasionally use repetition in my flash tales. I know that sounds odd. A limited word count and you’re repeating a word or words you’ve already used, isn’t that a waste of your word count? Not really.

When I do this, I’m doing it for effect. I’m usually trying to get a rhythm going in my prose or the repetition is something important and I want the reader to pick up on that importance. I don’t use this technique a lot but sometimes it’s useful.

Whatever you write, you need to know why you are writing it in that way and does it suit the character and/or their situation? The answer should be yes, naturally.

Allison Symes - Flash Fiction Collections

Goodreads Author Blog – First Audio Books

I love audio books – really useful for long journeys. The first ones I listened to, and which are still great favourites, were the Terry Pratchett Discworld ones, narrated by Sir Tony Robinson. These were great for another reason. I got my better half into these stories thanks to the audio books and it mean for several birthdays, wedding anniversaries etc., presents for him were sorted! Alas no more because we’ve got the lot!

What was the first audio book you enjoyed? What made you go for it? Had you already read the paperback? I had with the Discworld ones but my other half had not.

I’m never worried about book formats. People find different ways into stories. There will always be a need for the printed book but I do love it when those who are not great readers, such as my other half, discover and love stories another way. Audio books are a fabulous invention.

BookBrushImage-2022-7-19-20-5826

Twitter Corner (2)

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

Flash Flexibility, Writing Workshops, and Supporting Other Writers

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 few days. Summery weather at last which Lady and I have loved. I have publication news too so it’s a good start to the week in that department too.

BookBrushImage-2022-6-21-20-4155

Facebook – General

Lovely day today and Lady is very happy because she got to “boop” her best mate, the lovely Rhodesian Ridgeback. Usually the Ridgeback boops Lady. For dogs, it really is the little things in life that bring them the most joy (oh and dinner of course!).

Delighted to say I can now reveal I will have another story on Cafelit on 27th June. Looking forward to sharing the link on that then. The piece comes from a homework exercise I set for members of the Association of Christian Writers Flash Fiction Group.

Will be off to the theatre again in July with my lovely editor from Chandler’s Ford Today, Janet Williams, Looking forward to seeing the latest production from The Chameleon Theatre Group. Will review in due course. I should’ve finished my In Fiction series for CFT by then – wish me luck finding something suitable for the letters V and X! I hope my years of Scrabble paying might help here!

BookBrushImage-2022-6-21-20-2357

Hope your Monday has been okay. Busy as ever here though the weather was lovely. Glad to say I’ll have further publication news to share soon so that’s a smashing start to the week.

My Chandler’s Ford Today post this week is about Underlining In Fiction. I’ll be looking at how to stress points to a reader without needless boring repetition and talking about planting the right clues. Link up on Friday.

Amazon currently has offers on the paperback of both From Light to Dark and Back Again and Tripping the Flash Fantastic. See the link.

Writing Tip Number 3,004 or something like that but one I’ve found incredibly useful: time away from a piece of work is crucial. You do need the distance in terms of time away from it so you can see where it has strengths and, more importantly, where it hasn’t!

With my judge’s hat on, I can spot those stories where an author has clearly given themselves enough time away from their story as they have then edited it effectively too.

The trouble with editing a story immediately is there tends to be two responses to it – this is a work of utter genius, no work needs to be done to this deathless prose, or this is a work which I really shouldn’t have bothered with, everyone will loathe it. Neither are true. The truth is your story will have promise but needs polishing up and sharpening to show bring its potential out.

Screenshot 2022-06-20 at 20-11-22 Amazon.co.uk Allison Symes

Many thanks for the comments in on Time Off, my latest tale on Friday Flash Fiction. Some smashing feedback, all appreciated.

Going back to my Authors Electric post yesterday on Writing Workshops, I can’t stress enough how important it is to support other writers (something Friday Flash Fiction does very well, as does CafeLit). Nobody produces a perfect bit of work immediately (and is there any such thing anyway? I can look back at my earlier stories and see immediately how they could be bettered but they were where I was at during that time of my writing life).

We all have to start somewhere. We can all improve on what we do. It takes time and practice. There are no shortcuts for anyone.And people remember those who support them. They also remember those who were unsupportive. Which would you rather be known as – a supportive writer or not? I know what camp I want to be in! (That thought is assisted by the old saying make your words sweet as you never know when you’ve got to eat them!).

18th June – Authors Electric
It’s my turn on the Authors Electric blog and this month I’m talking about Writing Workshops. I discuss what I love about these, whether I run them or go to them, and look at how old school pen and paper can come into their own at these things. Hope you enjoy (and I’m looking forward to running another workshop at the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School in August).

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Flash has more flexibility than you might think. Yes, there is the word count issue but I’ve written stories in the first person, the third, as diary extracts, as well as setting my characters backwards and forwards in time. I’ve written fairytales with bite, crime tales, the odd ghost flash piece etc.

What influences all of this are the kinds of story I’ve loved reading over the years and which I continue to love and read. It really has paid off for me to read reasonably well and widely (I don’t think anyone can claim to be perfect here. Why would you want to be anyway? You want there to be other books and genres to discover after all!).

BookBrushImage-2022-6-21-20-3019

Many thanks for the views on my YouTube tale last week (or should that be tail?) – The Unexpected. But it is Monday once again and time for another video. Hope you like this one – The True Picture. I used a random verb generator which triggered the word picture and here is what I came up with for that prompt.

Sometimes I have an idea for what I think will be a flash piece but the story really does deserve a larger word count. So I simply write that piece for the short story market instead (and my stories tend to come in at 1500 to 2000 words for that). Sometimes what I think could make a good short story really does work better as a shorter, tighter flash piece. And that’s all fine.

It’s why it has paid me to ensure I have a foot in both camps when it comes to short form storytelling. What matters is the story is right for the character (and vice versa) and the story has a proper beginning, middle, and end. The story ends with a proper resolution to the dilemma the story is about and sometimes that will come in at a longer or shorter word count that you might have originally anticipated.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

I’m chatting about Writing Workshops for Authors Electric this month (see my author page on this – https://www.facebook.com/allison.symes.50) and one advantage to flash fiction here is these are easy to share when you want to discuss elements of story writing. They don’t take too long. They also demonstrate the points you’re trying to make. (And it’s another way of spreading the word about flash fiction so win-win there!).

I’ve found flash pieces are especially useful for demonstrating the old advice of show, not tell. Precisely because I don’t have the word count room for description, I do have to get my characters to show the readers what matters. And showing a point gets things across more clearly I find. I’ve been on the receiving end of that benefit many a time from workshops I’ve been to and have always appreciated that.

Screenshot 2022-06-18 at 20-05-37 (4) Allison Symes Facebook

Goodreads Author Blog – Book Covers

For a book to grip me, I have to be gripped by its characters, but the right book cover is what is going to get me to look at the blurb, the opening page, and then go on to buy said book. I want the cover to show me something of the mood/genre of the book, to be attractive, and to intrigue me enough so I do pick the book up in the first place. Not asking much. Hmm…. No wonder book covers are so difficult to get spot on.

My favourite quote on the topic comes from the wonderful P.G. Wodehouse who, in a letter to a friend, said “God may forgive Herbert Jenkins Limited for the cover of……… But I never shall!” Book title deleted here to protect the guilty. I highly recommend the Wodehouse books of letters by the way – there is a wonderful one edited by Frances Donaldson (Yours Plum, the Letters of P.G.Wodehouse which is where I came across this quote) and another which was edited by Sophie Ratcliffe (Wodehouse: A Life in Letters). Both are fascinating reads.

It is some comfort to me as a writer that even the big names didn’t/haven’t always liked the book covers they’ve been “given”. I’ve been fortunate here in that my small indie publisher has ensured I have had some input into my covers which is something I’ve appreciated.

The author ought to have some idea of themes etc that their book cover could draw on though, rightly, the publisher should have the final say given they know what has worked for them already and can drawn on that kind of knowledge one author is simply not going to have.

So then what works for you with book covers? I don’t like over-complicated ones. Indeed my Agatha Christie collection (good old Odhams Publishers) are simply red hardbacks with gold lettering – simple but effective. The Lord of the Rings trilogy has Gandalf striding out in bad weather and again works well (I know immediately this has to be a fantasy quest).

Screenshot 2022-06-18 at 20-24-23 Book Covers

 

Twitter Corner

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

Questions 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 few days. I ‘fess up to one of the downsides of scheduling this week! Let’s just say I think most schedulers get caught out this way at some point and this week it was my turn!

BookBrushImage-2022-5-20-18-5937

Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

Now I’ve talked before about the virtues of scheduling blog posts etc. It is a useful thing to do but one slight downside is it can mean you get ahead of yourself a bit and I’ve realised I’ve just done that for Chandler’s Ford Today.

My post this week is actually called Questions in Fiction where I talk about using questions as a structure, as inspiration for themes and titles, and I look at questions for characters too.

Screenshot 2022-05-20 at 09-54-18 Questions In Fiction - Chandler's Ford Today

My Reading, Rhythms, and Resolutions post will be on CFT next Friday, 27th May and will I hope to prove to be equally useful as I discuss why reading matters so much to writers. I will also look at rhythms in stories and how resolutions have to be suitable, even if not happy ones.

Apologies for the mix up but as ever comments on all of my CFT posts are welcome over on the website. (It has been a long week! That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it!).

Questions In Fiction

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Hope you have had a good day. Nice to see some decent weather. Other half and I enjoyed our evening meal al fresco which was lovely and not something we get to do that often.

My Chandler’s Ford Today post tomorrow covers Reading, Rhythms, and Resolutions in Fiction. Err… no! See above! As ever comments are welcome in the CFT box. This is always true though!

Talking of comments, many thanks for the comments in on my Authors Electric post yesterday. See below. I was talking about Why I Love the Short Fictional Forms. I love novels, novellas, short story anthologies, and flash fiction collections though I must admit I would like the latter two to have as much “status” as novels.

What every short form writer will hear at some point includes the following:-

1. When are you going to write a proper book?

2. Can you only do short stories then?

3. You must be belting out short stories all the time then because they can’t take you long!

4. Are short stories only for children?

5. Is there really a market for short stories?

Answers (possibly given to stop the writer from gnashing their teeth at the questioner):-

1. A short story or flash collection is a proper book. It still takes time to compile, edit, and proof-read.

2. No but I love short stories so that’s what I write.

3. I do write a fair few but each story needs editing and crafting and that takes longer than you might think.

4. No! Best example here is the original story of The Birds by Daphne du Maurier, which Alfred Hitchcock then turned into a film. Definitely not for kids!

5. Yes. It’s a question of knowing where to look. There are the magazines, including the online ones. There are the competitions. And then there is the indie press who are open to collections.

I feel better for getting that off my mind!

BookBrushImage-2022-5-19-18-5539

18th May – Authors Electric
It’s always a joy to blog for Authors Electric, especially when it’s on a topic close to my heart. This month I talk about Why I Love The Shorter Fictional Forms. I celebrate the wonders of the short story and flash fiction formats here.

One great aspect to them is you get the “payback” from a twist in the tale story, to name one example. that much more quickly. And I love going on from story to story in a collection too. In one book I can read a variety of moods and genres. Why should mixed assortments only be for chocolates?!

Screenshot 2022-05-18 at 08-51-06 Why I Love the Short Fictional Forms by Allison Symes

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

20th May 2002 – Bonus Post – Mom’s Favorite Reads
Pleased to share a bonus post tonight. Here is an example of a column I write on flash fiction for Mom’s Favorite Reads. The magazine is FREE to download and, as well as the column, I set a writing challenge each month. Why not take a look, have a good read, and give the challenge a go?

Screenshot 2022-05-20 at 12-20-06 Flash Fiction

I like to start the working week with a story (YouTube) and I like to end it with one (Friday Flash Fiction). Seems like a good arrangement to me! Hope you enjoy my latest tale on FFF called Another Birthday.
Screenshot 2022-05-20 at 09-54-32 Another Birthday by Allison Symes

Titles can carry a lot of “weight” for flash fiction but I’ve found they work best when kept short. I like to use my titles to either indicate the mood of the story to come or to be open to interpretation so someone has to read the story to find out which direction I have taken it in. I sometimes subvert well known phrases (my Punish the Innocent is an example of that).

I also like using one word titles such as Expecting – the idea there is to raise questions in the reader’s mind. Who is expecting what? Are they going to be disappointed or thrilled?

So I do give some thought as to what I want my title to be/to do. For flash this is useful as in many cases, the title does not count as part of your overall word count so a writer can use that to good effect.

However, a ten word title to indicate mood etc isn’t going to work. As with the story itself, you want to have an impact on the reader and that works best when kept short. A long title will dilute the effect (and be harder for readers to remember).

BookBrushImage-2022-5-19-19-123

I love slipping in humorous one-liners into my flash stories sometimes. For example in my story, Rewards, from From Light to Dark and Back Again, I have the line “The mocking face of blue-eyed brunette, Gemma Alderson, who was endowed with a bosom that could knock someone out if deployed as a weapon”.

It was great fun writing that but I needed it to have a purpose too – I wanted to send out a specific image (and I so do there!). I could’ve just said that Gemma was big-busted and saved a fair number of words in doing that but it wouldn’t have been so much fun to read or to write.

So yes there is a time when you need more words rather than less in flash fiction but there should always be a specific purpose behind it. Here it was to raise a smile! Good enough reason for me!

Fairytales With Bite – Making the Most of Tropes

For my flash fiction, I can make the most of tropes to help me get the most out of my word count.

If I’ve got a fairy godmother character, I needn’t go into details about the magical equipment she uses, say. You will expect there to be a magic wand, probably a spell book, maybe some pre-prepared potions and so on. You will bring to the story what you know from other fairytales you have read. You will know what to expect. What you don’t want is for something to spill over into cliche.

Yet a fairy godmother character who turns up without a magic wand would seem odd to a reader. So you can use the conventions to your advantage here. You can work out what you don’t need to explain and what you can leave to your readers as they fill in the gaps.

And, yes, things like magic wands can act as a kind of a shorthand. Saves a lot of explaining on your part. Pick your “things readers could reasonably expect” carefully.

If you want to bring in a twist on your trope, such as my fairy godmother character hitting someone with her wand rather than aiming it at them, do explain why. Better still, get your characters to do it. There must be a good reason for the trope being used in a strange way.

BookBrushImage-2022-5-17-20-3640

This World and Others – World Building Acrostic

W = Work out whether you’re going to show the whole of your world in a story or just part of it.

O = Originality – what makes your world stand out? How is it different from ours?

R = Realistic characters are always vital. Just bear in mind in a strange setting, those characters can still be realistic even if, say, they are e a great big dragon! Their behaviour and attitudes should be reasonable for the world you’re in.

L = Limits are a good idea, funnily enough. Limit what your powerful characters can do and make them think of alternative solutions to problems.

D = Dreams – what do your characters want and what stops them getting it? Are their dreams/ambitions etc constrained by the type of world they’re living in?

 

B = Build in contrasts. Comparisons with things on earth bring home this is a alien type story.

U = Under your world – what lies there? All sorts of things are being discovered in our seas so what could be beneath current knowledge in your world? Could that have a major impact on them later.

I = Imagination. Have plenty of it! Use the right telling details to help us conjure up what you’ve created.

L= Lunches and leisure – how does your creative world affect them? Does everyone have to stop at a certain time? If so, what would happen on the odd occasion they couldn’t turn up?

D = Dig deep into your characters’ lives but also in to why this setting rather than one other.

I = Intensify the conflicts between certain people groups on your home planet.Look at how these developed. Then ideally come across people from both who will try to put things right. great drama there!

N = New scene, new paragraph. Keep things nice and tight. Drip feed information in throughout the story. Don’t go for big blocks of explaining. Those will be what readers skip.

G = Go for it! Have fun. Think about what you need to know to be able to write the world and characters up.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Twitter Corner

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

Stories and The Joys of Working with the Indie Press


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.
I hope you had a happy Easter, if you celebrate it as I do. The weather was lovely and it actually felt spring-like! After the bizarre weather of the last month or so that was welcome.

BookBrushImage-2022-4-19-20-1232

Facebook – General

Hope you have had a good day. Am catching up with some flash fiction reading at the moment then I’m on to non-fiction books again. I do like a good mix.

Writing wise, this week’s Chandler’s Ford Today post will be Names In Fiction. Sorry my Originality in Fiction will be out for CFT on the 29th April. I got ahead of myself by a week there! (I blame the bank holidays and the clock change – so there! Having said that, I hope you enjoy both posts when they come out over the next two Fridays!).

I schedule blogs and tweets I write every so often for the Association of Christian Writers as much as I can. It saves time and it means I don’t forget things but it does mean I can occasionally put myself out of sync with myself as I did over the weekend!

Blogging wasn’t really a “thing” when I started writing seriously. I am glad it is now though. I love blogs and have learned so much from them myself over the years.

Am looking forward to going out with my CFT editor, Janet Williams, next week to see the Chameleon Theatre Group’s production of The Dragon of Wantley. This panto was deferred from January but I’m looking forward to seeing it The Chameleon pantos are always great fun and I do plan to break my In Fiction series to write a review in due course.

Authors Electric Blog

Pleased to share The Joys of Working with the Indie Press for Authors Electric this month. It was a joy to write this one up as it continues to be a joy working with said indie press! I love the way the indie press has given so many writers, including me, more options for getting work out there.

Screenshot 2022-04-18 at 17-12-31 The Joys of Working with the Indie Press by Allison Symes

17th April

Happy Easter Sunday!

I’m chatting about The Joys of Working with the Indie Press for my Authors Electric blog tomorrow. Looking forward to sharing that link. See above.

A big thank you for the wonderful comments continuing to come in on my A Timely Reveal for Friday Flash Fiction. Much appreciated and I am loving writing the 100-worders again. You can pack quite a punch with the short form of fiction – and it is great for the twist ending.

My Chandler’s Ford Today post will be about Originality in Fiction. Looking forward to sharing that link on Friday. Oops! Post will actually be Names in Fiction for this week though Originality in Fiction will follow on 29th April. The dangers of getting ahead of yourself are illustrated here!

Have a good week (and those who are not working, I hope you enjoy the rest of your Easter break).

Screenshot 2022-04-15 at 12-35-32 A Timely Reveal by Allison Symes

S = Short forms of fiction are great fun to write and read.
T = Telling tales in fewer words is the best way I know to tighten up writing skills.
O = Original short stories and flash fiction can stay in the memory longer precisely because they are short.
R = Remember all forms of writing need editing and honing – the short form is no different.
I = Imagination is focused in the shorter stories and therefore impact is more intense.
E = Every word has to punch its weight to justify being included – there is no spare room here.
S = Stunning stories can be submitted to markets, competitions or compiled for a collection.

BookBrushImage-2022-4-16-20-1659

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

I mentioned yesterday that I used the random scenario generator again yesterday for my YouTube story, Strange Room. I took the theme of waking up in a strange room and wrote a different story which I hope will make it on to Friday Flash Fiction this week. And that’s the thing. You can take a great prompt, write two different stories for it and send said stories off to two different markets. Win-win there I think!

BookBrushImage-2022-4-19-20-151

It has been a Bank Holiday here in the UK but that doesn’t stop it being story time once again. My latest YouTube video is called Strange Room and is based on another prompt from a random scenario generator. The prompt was to write about waking up in a strange room. Hope you enjoy it.


17th April

Happy Easter Sunday!

Am looking forward to watching Doctor Who later on. (It was great!). It is one of the few things I will watch as “live” telly.

Writing wise, all is going well on my workshop material and I am pleased with how my In Fiction series for Chandler’s Ford Today is panning out. Do see the direct link to my page here for more.

Just to finish by saying there are offers on Amazon on the paperbacks of From Light to Dark and Back Again and Tripping the Flash Fantastic. Do see the link for more information. Hope you enjoy a good read!

I love mixing up the moods in my stories and a flash collection is a great way to have a great mix of tales reflecting this. Just as life isn’t all laughter and sunshine, neither are my tales. Equally, life isn’t all grim and darkness (despite what the news is saying) and again my stories reflect that. There needs to be room in fiction as in life, for laughter and tears, comedy and tragedy – we experience all of these things.

Fiction should reflect it all too. Then it is up to the reader to decide what they want to read in terms of mood. The lovely things with collections is you can get a good range within one book cover! I think that’s a great idea. And the indie press does take collections so short story writers and flash fiction authors, be aware – there are opportunities here.

BookBrushImage-2022-4-16-20-237

Goodreads Author Blog – Odd Books

I suspect, like me, you have a good range of books on your shelves and most of them you can put into categories. I have a significant amount of crime novels, a whole section of humour (Wodehouse and Pratchett), and many others besides. With my writing guides, those have their own sub-categories as some cover short story writing while others look at novels etc.

But I do have odd books I can’t put into a section. Some of these are reference books as some stand alone because they cover a particular topic. So I group these in my “odd corner”. These are the kind of books which would have gone out of print long ago but which are a fascinating read and great for dipping into. My odd books tend to be non-fiction and I have found that many a fiction story idea is inspired by something I’ve read in a non-fiction book. So this is another good reason to ensure I know where to find my odd books!

I’ve not yet got back to going to charity markets etc where you will often find odd but interesting books on offer. It is something I hope to resume but what I would say is even if you are the most die-hard fiction writer, do have a good selection of non-fiction books in. They are great reads in and of themselves and do use them to inspire your own story ideas. When you are at charity markets have a good rummage and see what you can find. You may end up being glad you got those odd books in!

BookBrushImage-2022-4-19-20-3252

twitter-corner-2

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

In Fiction – Frameworks and Animals – and A Good Cause


Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Somes images created in Book Brush using Pixabay photos. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.
Hope you are all safe and well. UK currently experiencing Storm Eunice. Must admit I’m not impressed by her! Neither was the dog…

BookBrushImage-2022-2-18-20-3356

Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today/Authors Electric

Authors Electric
Busy night on the old blogging front as I have two separate posts to share. First up is my Authors Electric post for this month where I talk about Animals in Fiction. This is something I talked about for Chandler’s Ford Today a few weeks ago but the topic bears repeating. I share my love of animal characters and talk about what I do when I write from the viewpoint of an animal character. I’ve written from the viewpoint of a mother dragon after all! Hope you enjoy the post.

Chandler’s Ford Today

And now time for my Chandler’s Ford Today post. This week I’m looking at Frameworks in Fiction. I look at why frameworks matter, share a few of the different ones I use (and why I like to mix them up), and what can be used as a framework, even when at first glance the device in question doesn’t appear to be a framework at all! I also ask if frameworks can be too constricting. Hope you enjoy the post and find it useful.

Frameworks in Fiction

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Lull between the storms in the UK right now. Take care, everyone, with Storm Eunice due tomorrow.
On a happier note, my Chandler’s Ford Today post this week will be about Frameworks in Fiction. I use a number of different ones for my flash tales and will be discussing these and why frameworks are so useful. Link up tomorrow. See above.

Don’t forget I send out an author newsletter on the first of each month with tips, news, prompts etc. If you’d like to sign up please head over to my landing page at https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com

Currently busy on story judging and editing as well as my own writing so am staying out of mischief well enough!

It was lovely catching up with everyone on the Association of Christian Writers Flash Fiction group on Zoom last night. We all ended up with a new story to work on thanks to a free writing exercise set by #AnnmarieMiles. I used a random name generator to come up with the name of a character to write about and there were excellent and different approaches taken. All good fun!

 

The wind is already getting stronger here in Hampshire – take care, everyone, over what promise to be a wild few days in the UK.

Now I don’t use the weather in fiction at all (too many cliches etc and It was a dark and stormy night has been done!). But you can use the elements to help set mood including landscape as well as weather. Think about the detail a reader needs to know. You won’t need to spell everything out. The joy of flash is so much is inferred and the reader fills in the gaps.

I’ve always loved doing that when reading longer works but for flash writing, it is crucial. I may need to know your character is on a moor. I don’t need to know how wet, boggy etc the moor is because I have my idea of what a moor is like and that will be what I visualise when I read the word “moor”. What is more important to know is the season. Is your character there in the summer or the winter? That will make a huge difference to the conditions they face.

So it is the question of the telling detail then – select what readers have to know, what they cannot guess at, and let your readers fill in the gaps. We will – and it saves so much on the old word count! Nor do you irritate readers telling them what they can work out for themselves.

BookBrushImage-2022-2-18-20-5049

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Now earlier this week, I shared my YouTube story called At Number 64  – see below – and I mentioned I had submitted a linked story to this for Friday Flash Fiction. Well, I am glad to say my second story on the same theme is now up on FFF and I am glad to share it here. Hope you enjoy A Good Cause (and many thanks for the fab comments in on it so far).

Screenshot 2022-02-18 at 19-20-44 A Good Cause, by Allison Symes


In a month’s time I’ll be on my way to the Scottish Association of Writers’ Conference where I’ll be running a flash fiction workshop. Looking forward to that immensely. Never thought I’d be doing this kind of thing when I started out.

But I have a very soft spot for workshops anyway. You get to meet other writers. You get to learn something useful. And a good workshop should trigger ideas for you own stories too.

Best invention since sliced bread? The notebook and pen of course.

Still great for workshop/conference environments. And flash gives you potential for writing up your exercises from workshops etc into polished stories you can submit later. Every so often I will go back through my old notebooks and see if there is something I can polish up. Sometimes I will find something useful like that. Other times I’ll read something which will trigger other story ideas and that’s great too.


Screenshot 2022-02-18 at 20-54-40 Writing Workshops Conference 2020 Scottish Association of WritersI was talking about giving readers the telling details they need to know to make sense of your story over on my Facebook author page just now and I referred to the elements. But you need to think about telling details for your characters too.

I’ve mentioned before I like to know the character’s major trait as all sorts of things can come from that which you can use to bring your character to life (e.g. the character is brave, they have a tendency to be reckless because of it and that’s where the story is – in what that recklessness leads to).

So work out what you need to know to make the character work for you. (If the character works for you, they’ll work for a reader). If a character is poor, do you need to know if they have become poor or have always been less well off? What is their attitude towards it? Can that attitude be where your story is – if your character is bitter, do they do something against anyone they hold to blame for their situation?

Ask yourself questions about what you need to know. I’ve found doing that sparks ideas and soon an outline for a possible story emerges. I like that – a lot!

Screenshot 2022-02-18 at 20-57-33 (2) Allison Symes Facebook

Fairytales With Bite – Happily Ever After?

And they all lived happily ever after has to be one of the most famous endings to any story. Though it should be added the original versions of fairytales often did not have a happy ending or gruesome things occurred before the happy ever after bit.

I understand it being in the classic tales for children but it is not one I am comfortable with myself. I like most of my stories to have a positive, upbeat ending where you can see things would continue to be okay for my deserving characters long after the story has finished. But sometimes I write stories with poignant endings because that is appropriate for the characters I’ve come up with.

And that is what I am really after in the stories I read and write – appropriate endings for the characters.

One thing I do get from my love of fairytales is the wish for the villains to get their well deserved comeuppance. I’m actually more interested in seeing how that pans out rather than the happy bit (because with the comeuppance bit achieved, the rest will follow).

I also like to see happy ever afters “earned” by the characters concerned – it seems more realistic to me the characters (a) deserve to get their happy ever after ending and (b) contribute to achieving that significantly themselves.

So give some thought to how you want your stories to end. When it is a happy ending, have your characters be worthy of it. You want your readers cheering them on to the happy conclusion after all.

BookBrushImage-2022-2-18-21-20

This World and Others – Living In Peace

Does your fictional world live in peace with other creations around it? Do the inhabitants of your created world get along with each other? How many species live in your world and is there any “history” between them? Do they live in peace now after centuries of not doing so? Is your world one of those where peace is a rarity or where war is unknown and disputes have to be resolved in other ways?

What would your fictional world make of our real one? Answering something like that can give you insight into how and why your people behave and act the way they do. Could they live in peace with us? What do they make of our warlike ways? Some would despise that (and possibly because we’re not warlike enough in their view). Some would hate it because they cannot understand violence. Some would love it, possibly seeing possibilities of exploiting that quality against us.

Living in peace takes effort. How much effort are your characters prepared to make? What is the incentive for them to be at peace especially if their culture is one of war?

Good story possibilities there I think especially since there is always someone who is prepared for various reasons to go against the status quo.

 

Twitter Corner (2)

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

Firing Up The Imagination


Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Some images created in Book Brush using Pixabay photos. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.
Hope you had a good weekend. Mixed bag here – my dog, Lady, wasn’t well though she is a lot better now, thankfully and getting on with plenty of writing (which always cheers me up).

BookBrushImage-2022-1-11-21-710

Facebook – General

I talk about random generators for my Authors Electric post on Firing Up the Imagination this month. I use a variety of these to trigger story ideas, title ideas, theme ideas and so on. I’ve even used a number generator to trigger numbers I either use as countdowns in my tales or house addresses where the action take space. Why not give them a go? They’re great fun to use and you can set your own parameters on them too.

Towards the end of last week, Lady came down with the same bug her best buddy, the Ridgeback, had. Glad to say both girls are now a lot better and were so pleased to see each other this morning.

Sent in another story for Friday Flash Fiction over the weekend and am looking forward to taking part in the ACW Flash Fiction group Zoom meeting on Wednesday. For my FFF story, I did something a little unusual – I repeated a whole line deliberately. I hope to be able to share the link on Friday but the reason for the repetition was that it added “oomph” to the storyline and to my lead character’s portrayal.

With the flash fiction word count being what it is (and 100 words for FFF) I would normally see repetition as a waste of words and I would usually find a different way of saying the same thing if that was justified. Often that kind of thing brings emphasis to a point without the need to repeat. But for this story the direct repetition was the correct way to go. I look forward to sharing the link later in the week and you can see what you think.

What matters is why you’re doing something like this and the reason has to be strong enough to justify it.

BookBrushImage-2022-1-17-20-949

Hope you have had a nice weekend. It was lovely catching up with two lovely writer friends on Zoom last night.

I’ll be talking about Best Friends in Fiction for Chandler’s Ford Today this week. Link up on Friday. And I’ll be taking a briefer look at Animals in Fiction again for Authors Electric on Tuesday. Link above.

Many thanks for the comments coming in on Dodging by Numbers, my latest piece on Friday Flash Fiction.

I must admit, especially given what my story is about, I prefer painting by numbers, which is something I did as a kid. I also used to like I-Spy as a kid, both the game and the books on different topics where you got points for specific things observed.

Topics included things like birds, cars, butterflies, on a train journey etc., and I understand the books are still going strong. The idea of course was to encourage observation (and it kept kids quiet on a journey! I know as I was one of those kids!). Also it encouraged kids to collect books, another good thing!

But being observant is excellent prep work for creative writing. You spot things and story ideas occur.

Your observations encourage you to ask questions such as the classic “what if” and that is probably my favourite trigger question for a story. You can do so much with that one but it helps enormously to have an observant, inquiring nature as you’re more likely to ask the question and want to answer it. I can’t honestly say what impact the I-Spy books had on me for developing curiosity about the world around me but triggering interest is key to learning anything I think.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Hope you have had a good Saturday. It has been pretty cold again here but on the plus side, my winter jasmine is out, and I am beginning to see some signs spring is on its way. Won’t be long I hope before I see the first snowdrop.

Now what do your characters make of the seasons? Do they have a particular favourite? Are they at their best in one, say, and at their worst in another? How could that affect their behaviour and how the outcome of your story might play out?

If you have a character who loathes the long dark evenings of winter, what would it take to make them do something that needs doing as part of your plot? How would they make themselves face up to having to get on with the task in hand regardless?

This would be a good opportunity for your character to show grit and determination. It should also encourage reader sympathy. I have a lot of sympathy for characters who make themselves do what has to be done regardless of personal feelings, likes and dislikes.

Also working out what your characters like/dislike here gives you a chance to flesh them out more so you understand where they are coming from, even if some of this does not make it into your story. I have found the more I know my character, the better I can write up their story as I am writing about them from conviction. And I think some of that comes through to your reader.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

One great way to get “into” a story is to come up with a cracking opening line which gives your character a “do or die” scenario you know has to be resolved one way or the other by the end of the tale.

In my Decisions from Tripping the Flash Fantastic, my opening line reads “He could watch the world end or jump on to the alien spaceship that encourages visitors.”. Decision time right there and then, consequences will have to follow whichever choice is made, and hopefully your reader is hooked to want to find out more.

And it is great fun, and a good use of time, to draft opening lines like that and come back to them later to write the stories up. You give yourself thinking time for one thing. Also if you find that promising opening line isn’t as good as you thought, and that is where the break away will help you come back and judge it objectively, change it to something you want to write up.

When I have moments like that, I then write up the new idea pretty much straight away fuelled by my own enthusiasm for the new idea that has occurred to me believing it will be better than the original one. Most of the time it is but I needed to get the original idea down first to help clear my imagination to come up with the better one! The old brain can be a bit funny like that but it does mean when you jot down ideas, you are “clearing the decks” ready for your subconscious to get to work.

Screenshot 2022-01-18 at 21-12-32 Tripping the Flash Fantastic Amazon co uk Symes, Allison 9781910542583 Books

It’s Monday (Blue Monday too). It has been a long day. It is story time then! Hope you enjoy my latest on YouTube – The End Is Nigh. (And if you, like me, find Monday especially tiring and busy, then the thought it is almost the end is nigh for this particular Monday is a good thing too!).

I discussed Reading as Therapy in my Goodreads blog this week but reading is, of course, so much more than that. See link here and further down.

Reading is vital to anyone wanting to write whether it is flash fiction pieces or a three volume epic because:-

  • What you read inspires what you write. I love fairytales. So I like to write my own. I don’t want to write my version of Cinderella but I have written twists on that classic story. I like to write from a fairy godmother’s viewpoint etc but I needed to know the fairytales and how they work to be able to do that.
  • You take in subconsciously how stories work, how dialogue is laid out etc so that helps you when it comes to writing your own tales.
  • You literally see who the publishers are and what they are producing. Some authors credit their agents in books. So reading is a way of picking up information that might prove useful to you when it comes to submitting your own work.
  • I read in my field (I need to know what else is out there and I will always read genres I love, including those I write in), and out of it. I widen my sources of inspiration thanks to doing that.

I’ve mentioned before I also mix up the kinds of things I read. I read short and long form, fiction and non-fiction, books, and magazines. It all counts. Best of all it is fun!

Screenshot 2022-01-18 at 21-18-23 Reading as Therapy

It is good fun every now and then to have a writing session where I jot down promising opening lines. I come back to them at a later date and if they still grab me, I write them up. A really good opening line can be a complete flash fiction story in and of itself (though you can still go on and write a fuller version of the story later if you wanted to do so).

And when you only have short pockets of time to write, why not draft this kind of thing? You are doing something creative. And your subconscious can “brew” on the lines you’ve come up with (which will help you when it does come to writing the story up). You may not be able to get to your desk for a bit. Fine. Let your mind start thinking up possibilities for those opening lines. You are thinking possible stories out and that is never wasted time.

BookBrushImage-2022-1-15-20-112

Goodreads Author Blog – Reading as Therapy

Now there are certain things I see as therapeutic – chocolate, classical music, my dog, and, naturally, a good book or several. When the news is grim (as it so often is these days), a good book can transport you back in time, forward in time, anywhere on Earth (other planets are available if you like sci-fi), and can chill you, thrill you or make you laugh.

Books are wonderful. Doesn’t matter what format they come in either.

And when my own mood is low, reading a cosy crime (Agatha Christie) or something by Wodehouse or Pratchett or Austen is the very thing to help lift it. Books cannot stop my problems, yet alone the ones we see in the news day in day out, but they can transport us “somewhere else” for a while and sometimes that is all you need.

So yes I see the act of reading as a therapeutic art in and of itself and one major reason why I would love to see everyone enjoy books and reading.

BookBrushImage-2022-1-18-21-3015

 

red blue and yellow textile

Photo by Brett Jordan on Pexels.com

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.