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

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. 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

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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

Screenshot 2022-11-26 at 17-10-44 Evergreen

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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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Publication/Submission News and The Flash NANO Challenge


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. Weather all over the place so far this week. Busy week with publication and submission news and the Flash NANO challenge continues… am never short of things to do writing wise. And that is the way I like it!

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Lady and I spent a lot of the day getting wet. When I went out earlier it was to go swimming! You couldn’t make that up!

Writing wise, I’ll be sharing Part 1 of a fabulous interview with fellow Mom’s Favorite Reads contributor, Jenny Sanders, over on Chandler’s Ford Today later this week. Link up on Friday. More interviews to come too.

Progressing well on Flash NANO. Also looking forward to the Association of Christian Writers Flash Fiction Group meeting at the end of the month. And I’ve proofread my story – Ever Green and Good to Go – which will be appearing in Evergreen, this year’s Bridge House Publishing anthology. More details on that publication as and when I have them.


Busy day as usual for a Monday. Hope things have not been too hectic with you. Pleased to get my usual batch of stories prepared and scheduled/submitted yesterday. Sunday afternoon is flash fiction writing afternoon! The rest of the week is blogging and more flash writing but I do reserve Sundays specifically for getting new material prepared and out.

It is like responding to “live prompt” writing with a very short deadline to meet and I enjoy doing that. I was pleased that something I prepared for Flash NANO will fit perfectly for something coming up shortly so I have gone and submitted it. Also submitted my third flash collection over the weekend so am pleased with weekend’s achievements.

I have some wonderful author interviews coming up on Chandler’s Ford Today so am looking forward to sharing these with you over the next few weeks.

Author Interviews coming up on CFT

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Hope you have had a good day. The service at the War Memorial in the village where we go to church was most moving. Remembering and being grateful for sacrifices made is so important.

What would your characters consider important to remember? What does this reveal about them? What stories and poems do they choose to hold dear? Also what would they be prepared to sacrifice and what would drive them to do it?

And remember you can use a character’s memory as a point of conflict with another character. How would that then play out in your story?

May be an image of text that says "Dream Inspire Courage Harmony We should understand where our characters come from even if we don't agree with them. What dreams do they have? Would we dream the same?"

Many thanks for the comments coming in on my In The Blink of an Eye, my latest tale on Friday Flash Fiction. I’ve loved getting back to the 100-worders (aka drabbles) again. These were what first got me into flash fiction writing at all and is a joy to be writing these weekly for FFF.

For Flash NANO, I’ve found my word count has been variable but that’s okay. They’ll be even more variable when I get to edit these pieces! But it will result in, I hope, thirty new stories written by the end of the month and I know I’ll be doing plenty with those.

Screenshot 2022-11-11 at 08-57-23 In The Blink Of An Eye by Allison Symes

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Am glad my story on YouTube, Time Management, has gone down well. Also thank you for the comment left on this one over on my YouTube channel. Don’t forget you can subscribe to my channel and new subscribers are also welcome. Many thanks to those who already do!

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14th November
You know the drill. It’s Monday. It’s getting dark early. It is still flaming Monday, and it’s time for a new YouTube story from yours truly. I concede I may be a little early with this one given the subject matter (Time Management) but hope you enjoy it anyway!


Flash NANO challenge continues to go well. And I submitted my third flash fiction collection yesterday so fingers crossed time!

Over on my author page, I was thinking about the use of memories for story ideas. Flash can be an ideal form for monologues. So you could focus on one character and one specific memory and how that changed them to create a poignant flash piece. (I did this with my They Don’t Understand in From Light to Dark and Back Again. I think it works well precisely because it has to be kept short and pertinent).

The memory you select has to be something that has changed your character and which would rivet a reader into wanting to find out why the character was changed by it.

Allison Symes - Flash Fiction Collections


Flash News: Hannah Kate will be running her Three Minute Santas again on North Manchester FM. See the link for more details but I hope to submit something for this and it is easy to do too. Have since sent something in. Again fingers crossed time!

What I do is prepare my story, edit it, and then when I’m happy, I set up a meeting with myself on Zoom and record it. When you end your meeting Zoom turns the file into a mp4 file for you. Not only can you hear it back, you get the timing for your file too. (And reading your work out is always great for hearing whether your story flows as well as you thought).

3 Minute Santas

Goodreads Author Blog – Book Memory Associations

Books are special for so many reasons. Not least is the fact books have so many positive memory associations for us. I still have my Reader’s Digest Collection of Fairytales which my father bought for me many, many years ago. I think he saved up cigarette coupons to get the books. You could back then!

You went into what was a effectively a catalogue shop (a bit like Argos) and redeemed the coupons. One irony here is I know I did get a recorder thanks to those coupons thanks to Dad’s smoking habit, which I am glad he gave up much later on. Anyway, I still treasure those fairytale books. The spines are taped up because I read them so much when I was younger.

Then there are the books I inherited from my mum. There are the books I bought for myself to start my own collection off. There are the books I’ve written or contributed to and there are plenty of books on my shelves written by friends. I love them all!

There are books I associate with reading at certain times of the year. There are those I dip back into occasionally but I am just glad to know they’re on my shelves somewhere. For me a home isn’t a home without books in it. They are a great comfort.

So which books have great associations for you? Which books could you not bear to part with under any circumstances?

Screenshot 2022-11-12 at 20-08-03 Book Memory Associations
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Jubilees, Flash Fiction, and Publication News


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

The writing life really is a roller coaster.

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Goodreads Author Blog – Sharing Stories

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

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

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

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

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Settings and Simplicity in Fiction

 

Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes. Hope you have had a good week. Have enjoyed what I’ve seen of the Platinum Jubilee events (and plan to catch up on the rest next week. Why then? Because I’m off to a Golden Jubilee weekend for the Association of Christian Writers, where I’ll be running a flash fiction workshop. No Jubilees for ages and then two at once!).

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Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

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

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

Settings and Simplicity in Fiction

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2nd June – Queen’s Coronation Day Anniversary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Fairytales with Bite – Clothes in a Magical World

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

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

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

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

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

This World and Others – Material Matters

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

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

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

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Twitter Corner

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

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

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Book Festivals, Inventing Characters, and Going Home

Image Credit:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes.
Many thanks also to Sarah Archibald for the Brechin/Angus Book Festival materials – it is a joy to share them!

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Absolutely shattered last night after getting home from Scotland but it was an enjoyable trip and I have to say I liked LNER. I’ve not travelled with them before but liked the trains. Also impressed with very high standard of cleanliness – and a charging point at every seat. Great idea.

Am getting back to my usual writing routine (though whether I’ll get around to a YouTube video and/or submission to Friday Flash Fiction this week remains to be seen). I will be getting my author newsletter for December ready soon though (and you can sign up for that at my website landing page at https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com).

Looking forward to the next event – the Bridge House Publishing celebration on 4th December. Will be so good to meet up with friends again there too and catch up with what everyone has been doing.

Heading home from the Brechin/Angus Book Festival and enjoying great scenic views on the way as I travel through Scotland and a fair bit of England too. Had a lovely time.

It was great catching up with friends from the Association of Christian Writers and meeting new people. Some of us have a regular meet up on Zoom. This was the “live” version in many ways!

A huge thanks to Wendy H. Jones for being a fab hostess and organising all that needed to be organised, and to Sarah Archibald and her team behind the festival.

Looking forward now to being back at home with my family and Lady. Reports tell me she has been checking my side of the bed every night to see if I’d somehow sneaked back home while she was not looking! Not a chance even if I did have access to a portal etc. The postie only has to put one foot in the drive before she tells us about it!

In other news as they say, I look forward to sharing Part 2 of a great interview with Lynn Clement, whose The City of Stories was recently published by Chapeltown Books. This week we discuss the editing process – Chapeltown has a vigorous three stage plan for this. I had the privilege of editing Lynn on this and I look forward to sharing the link on Friday.

Had a lovely workshop session at the second day of the Brechin/Angus Book Festival. It was great to share ways into flash fiction and read some of my stories. That does two things – it shows what flash is and hopefully entertains the listener.

Later I gave a talk on The Ups and Downs of Becoming An Author where I talked about my circular route into becoming a published author. All good fun and many thanks to those who came to listen.

It has been particularly nice to meet new people and get chatting about books and stories.

Lovely to be at the Brechin/Angus Book Festival. It’s wonderful to see lots of lovely books (and equally lovely authors) out and about again.  

There is a great contingent from the Association of Christian Writers here. So shout-out to Wendy H Jones, Maressa Mortimer, Ruth Leigh, Heather Flack, Tony Collins, and Sheila Robinson (writes as S.C. Skillman).

Also lovely to meet in person those I’ve only met on Facebook and/or Zoom

Have also taken part in my first professional photo shoot with the other authors. All of us held up our latest book with pride! Great fun. Will appear in The Angus Courier next Thursday.

Book stall all set up to go at The Northern Hotel, Brechin

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

I’ve mentioned before my love of using random generators to help trigger different story ideas. I’m convinced these work because they force you to think outside of your usual creative box. You are being set a prompt to work to after all by something that has not come from you.

But don’t forget you can get even more from these by changing the parameters for these things. For example, for the random word ones, I often choose to generate just two words but there’s no reason why I can’t pick far more than that.

I’ve found using two will often give me a title and, yes, it can be easier to fit two words into a story rather than ten or so but that’s precisely the reason to change the parameters! It encourages you to think about how you can get these ten words into the story so it makes sense, adds to the character or the plot in some way etc.

Stretching yourself like that is a good thing. I’ve come up with more stories as a result of experimenting with parameters like this.

It was a pleasure to read from my flash collections at my workshop and tallk over the weekend at the Brechin/Angus Book Festival.

Doing this shows what flash is and the impact it can have so effectively. I just tailor which stories I read to suit the audience. I also like a balance of tales to make people smile and others that trigger other responses (such as a twist ending for a crime story, say).

I don’t read the same tales at every event (though I do have my own favourites I will often use).

Last day of the Brechin/Angus Book Festival and it has been fabulous to talk about flash fiction, sharing what I love about the form. As I mentioned yesterday, it is the continual inventing of characters I find the most fun. It is also the most challenging but it keeps me on my toes!

Writing flash fiction has meant I get to do what I love most – invent characters. Even more fun can be had because those characters don’t have to be human.

Why do I love inventing characters? Simply because they are fun to “play with”.Characters give me ways in which to explore motivations and what anyone might do in any given situation when under duress or where normal expectations don’t exist or are challenged.

How a character reacts is something that fascinates me. And with flash I get to do this over and over again.The joy of my two collections – From Light to Dark and Back Again and Tripping the Flash Fantastic – is I can reflect a number of scenarios and settings and that is also fun.

Goodreads Author Blog – Advertising Books

The best advertising for books is word-of-mouth. If someone I know tells me about a book I am more likely to sit up and take notice.

But getting awareness of available books out there is difficult.No author wants to come across as too pushy (instant turn-off for potential readers). But you equally can’t be too shy and retiring.

What I have found helps me is having a brief spiel prepared covering what flash fiction is (my main genre), why I love writing it, and then I go into my two collections. Often I’ll read from them too.

And readers do need to know the stories are out there. This is where book festivals and fairs can play a major role. So if you can support them, do. You will get to see potential good reads new to you and you support books in general as well as the authors.

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Coming Home, Consequences, and Getting Ready for Brechin

Image Credit:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Some images created in Book Brush using Pixabay photos.
Scottish photos taken by me, Allison Symes. Screenshots also taken by me (though a huge thanks goes to Sarah Archibald for the Brechin/Angus Book Festival poster).
Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.

Facebook – General

Hope you have had a good day. Today was marginally less hectic than yesterday. Am hoping Wednesday will be better still!

I issued my November newsletter a little early (as it was easier for me to send it out before I went on holiday). If you would like to sign up for a monthly round-up on news, tips, prompts etc., do head over to my website (landing page) at https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com

Was good to get back to submitting work to #FridayFlashFiction on my return too. Am loving reading the other stories on here too.

Will be a busy period on Chandler’s Ford Today for a while too. As well as my forthcoming Chameleons review, I have a smashing interview coming up with an author I met as a result of my being a guest speaker at the Hampshire Writers Society (it really is a small world), and of course I will be reporting back from the Brechin/Angus Book Festival. I’m also looking forward to reporting back on the Bridge House Publishing event in December.

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Why is it Mondays are always the most hectic day of the week? Still, it was lovely to see Lady have an absolute ball this morning playing with her best buddy, the Rhodesian Ridgeback, and her other pal, a charming Hungarian Vizler. The latter, I swear, has the sweetest smile in the park and is always so pleased to see us! Both dogs also make their appreciation of being able to share Lady’s water bottle known as they have their own ways of saying thanks!

I’ll be reviewing Murder with Ghosts, the most recent production staged by The Chameleon Theatre Group for Chandler’s Ford Today this week. Some of my favourite influences make themselves apparent in this play. More on this when I share the link on Friday. And if you think the title sounds fun, you’re right!

Sent off my box of books for the Brechin/Angus Book Festival today. It’s always difficult to estimate how many books you will need for events like this but I was pleased to get my parcel off on its way.

And talking of books, I hope to share further publication news soon.

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It is true what they say about needing a holiday to get over your holiday! Having said that, it is lovely to be back at home after a lovely break away.

Am delighted to say the November issue of Mom’s Favorite Reads is now out. See link below. My article is about Memories, appropriate for November of course, and there are splendid flash pieces in as a result of my theme. Do check them out and I hope you find the article inspiring. What role could your character’s memories have in their stories? What happens if memories “clash”? Perspectives differ after all. Plenty of food for thought for stories there.

I’m also pleased to be the featured author on Page 50 of the magazine. And remember it is FREE.

The journey home acts like a grand tour of Scotland. It is fascinating to see the landscape change from mountains and rivers to farmland to lowland. In previous years, when we’ve been here in late May, there has still been snow on the mountains.

As ever, Lady didn’t really want to go home. She loves it on the beaches here but she will adore seeing her friends again next week.

I shall be finishing my prep work for the Brechin/Angus Book Fest this week and resume flash fiction writing so plenty to look forward to there.

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

One of the reasons I love the 100-word story is the fact you don’t have to wait long for the pay-off! I also enjoy the challenge of having to keep coming up with characters and story lines. And stories like this are easy to share on social media and I think make a great advert for what flash fiction is and can be.

Flash as a whole has sharpened my writing considerably and I find myself asking where is the story in this character I’m thinking of writing up. That’s a good thing. Knowing where the story is helps a lot later on too when you need to tell people what your tale is about. You will definitely know and you do need to be specific. What you don’t want is the glazed expression on the face of your audience as you try to tell them!

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Pleased to be back creating YouTube videos once more. Hope you enjoy Consequences. It was great fun to write though I have muted sympathy for my character here.

Good to be back home again after a wonderful Scottish break. (Particularly pleased to be home as weather conditions yesterday were horrendous and I hope everyone is okay). Looking forward to being back in Scotland next week too! Have had the delightful task of boxing up books ready for the Brechin/Angus Book Festival, which will be from 19th to 21st November. I plan to write up a report on the Festival for Chandler’s Ford Today after I get home again (and hope my current post there on Making the Most of an Author Event proves useful).

One lovely thing about events is I can often get to demonstrate what flash is by reading some out. It doesn’t take long and it can lead to sales! Am also looking forward to running a flash workshop and giving an author talk about The Ups and Downs of Becoming an Author as my route to the writing life has had its fair share of cul-de-sacs! Nor did I expect to end up being published in flash fiction. I do not regret this however!

Also pleased to be the featured author in the November issue of Mom’s Favorite ReadsAmazon Link for this further up.

And I hope to share further publication news later this week too. It’s all go right now but that is good! (Also can’t wait for the Bridge House Publishing celebration event on 4th December in London. So looking forward to catching up with writing friends there. We last met up in person in December 2019 though Zoom has been a lifeline – and a great way to share the wonders of flash fiction writing!).

Every story has to have a turning point. In flash, of course, you reach that point a lot sooner. That in turn makes you focus on what leads to that point.

It is why twist in the tale stories work so well in flash and why I often write that line first before working backwards to reach a logical beginning.

But there is nothing to stop you having that turning point right at the start of your tale. When I do this I have already sketched out various ways in which I could take that promising start. The one that has the most impact (by having an equally intriguing middle and satisfying ending) is what I go with. It pays to take time out to work out different possibilities. Best of all it’s fun too!

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Goodreads Author Blog – Mixing Up Your Reading

I like to mix up my reading in different ways.
Firstly, I mix up fiction and non-fiction.
Secondly, I mix up reading novels and short stories/flash fiction anthologies.
Thirdly, I mix up reading in paperback/on Kindle.
Fourthly, I watch stories (via film) and listen to them (via radio, audio books).
But the important thing is getting the reading in and doing so regularly. What I love to read directly inspires what I write.

Online retailBooks are books regardless of format

books signage

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people reading books in library

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assorted books

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opened book on tree root

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BookBrushImage-2021-9-17-20-3426AE - July 2021 - Great characters will keep you turning the pages

Summer Here, Maybe; Gossip, and Transformations

Image Credit:-

All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Some images created in Book Brush using Pixabay photos.

Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.

Image of me reading at the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School Open Prose Mic Night taken by Penny Blackburn. Thanks, Penny! Also image of writers including yours truly at Swanwick was taken by Cheryl Holland on my phone. Thanks, Cheryl.

Screenshots re Mom’s Favorite Reads taken by me, Allison Symes.

Strange weather again this week but am pleased to be expanding my non-fiction work. And there is a new story to share. It is so good to be writing 100-worders aka drabbles again.

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Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

Delighted to share my latest Chandler’s Ford Today post, Summer Here, Maybe? Given the weather this week, it is an appropriate title. (Still have central heating on in June… not good!)

I look at my writing plans, look forward to writing events, and discuss holiday reading. One lovely thing about books is they can help you escape from the cares of the world for a bit, so even if you’re not having a holiday as such, a good book and time to enjoy it can make you feel as if you have got away for a while, if only into the world of that book. (Yet another reason for me not to read too much dystopian fiction! When I escape into a book, I want to emerge feeling as if I have been refreshed and entertained, not plunged into doom and then face the news!).

I am also delighted to hear that our wonderful local amateur dramatic group, The Chameleon Theatre Group, are planning to be back later this summer. So hopefully that will mean a return to “CFT works outings” for my lovely CFT editor, Janet Williams, and I! And it will so be good to welcome the Chameleons back. They have staged wonderful shows.

Summer Time, Maybe…

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Lovely chat with fellow dog walker in the park this morning. Her wonderful Hungarian Vizler is so polite. Whenever this Vizler shares water with Lady, she then gives me a huge lick as if to say thank you! (Lady’s best buddie, the Ridgeback, does this too). Lady, I’m afraid, gets her water down and doesn’t give another thought to it. What she will do is look up at me with happy shiny eyes after her playtime as if to say “Mum, that was great”. (Another good sign Lady has had a fab time is when she crashes out on the sofa – as she is currently doing).

So thrilled to be in Mom’s Favorite Reads this month. See https://moms-favorite-reads.com/2021/06/01/moms-favorite-reads-emagazine-june-2021/ for more info. I’ve been wanting to expand my non-fiction work for a while so this is a great development.

(And of course preparing talks has been a new thing for me this year and that comes into this category too. All great fun to do, wonderful experience, and something I never anticipated doing when I started out. This is where it is wonderful that you don’t know where the writing journey will take you. There have been some lovely surprises along the way and this is one of them).

For your fiction, do your characters ever surprise you? Because I outline them before I write, I know what mine are generally capable of but every so often they can take me aback. I then look at my outline to see if I really did know my characters as well as I thought I did. I also look at the surprise they’ve given me (and it’s never without good reason) and work out what I can do with it. I also look at how that affects the earlier part of the story.

A “good” surprise (in terms of plot development) stays in. A “weak” surprise which doesn’t add anything useful but is merely an extension of the character’s personality stays out. I find better ways of showing the extension to the personality instead – and there always are better ways. Usually it’s because I haven’t been clear enough on something earlier on so that gets changed and beefed up accordingly.

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Strange day today. Started off warm and sunny. By lunchtime it was raining! Have gone from bodywarmer to thick dog walking coat in a space of a couple of hours. Hope tomorrow is more settled.

My Chandler’s Ford Today post this week is called Summer Here, Maybe? Given today’s weather my question here is not so inappropriate after all! But I do share positive things in this post and talk about summer plans and holiday reading amongst other things. I also look at my writing plans and am thrilled to say The Chameleon Theatre Group, our excellent amateur theatre company, are planning their return this summer. Am so looking forward to seeing and reviewing their shows again.

It pays every so often to take a little time out to work out where you are with your writing. Are you where you wanted to be? Is there something you’ve always wanted to try but have never got around to writing?

Firstly, don’t worry if the answer to the first question is No. Plans change. You may discover new forms of writing, as I did, and focus on that. Also it is too easy to underestimate the time you need to find your writing voice and hone it.

Then there is the discovery of what works when submitting to this market, what works to submitting to that one and so on. One of the lovely things about writing is there is no retirement age. Have fun writing and if it takes you thirty years to get published, so be it. Your main focus must be on writing what you love to write. That love will help you keep going when the rejections come in and they will.

Secondly, if there is an area of writing you’d like to try, go for it. Do it for fun. Experiment. Have fun playing with words and if something comes from it, brilliant. If not, you will at least have the satisfaction of having given it a go.

And good luck!

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Thrilled to say my latest drabble, Gossip, is now up on #FridayFlashFiction. Hope you enjoy. This is one of those tales where the mood changes on two words – see if you can spot what they are! I love doing this kind of thing with my flash stories. Great fun and it is also a case of working out exactly where to place those “change” words for the best effect. It isn’t always right at the end of the story funnily enough. It isn’t here.


Thanks for the great response to my post about Transformations yesterday. I do miss going to the Waterloo Arts Festival and catching up with many Bridge House Publishing and CafeLit friends. (But I hope we can get to meet up later in the year and I am so looking forward to catching up with friends from the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School in August).

Characters transform of course. That is the whole point of any story. There has to be change. Sometimes it is positive (Scrooge), sometimes it’s not. (Think about Marley with those chains on him for eternity. The only thing he could do was to try to help Scrooge. Marley’s realisation of the need to change came far too late).

But changes don’t always have to be the obvious “dramatic” ones. In flash fiction, changes can be more subtle. What your reader wants is to follow a character’s journey through from beginning to end and see how what character changed. In my character study They Don’t Understand the point of change for my lead here is in realising how one mistake made many years ago has led him to the situation he is narrating to us.

Changes also have to be reasonably realistic for your characters too. Unless set in a magical world, your lead character is unlikely to suddenly sprout wings and be able to fly out of trouble. (It is a good trick if you can do it though – it just wouldn’t make for a convincing story, even in fantasy. The ability to fly has to be signposted earlier on, you can’t just spring things on your reader!).

 

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I was delighted when Transformations came out. This is the paperback/ebook compilation of the winning stories from the last three years of the Waterloo Arts Festival Writing Competition. I was privileged to win three years in a row with stories in very different moods.

My Progressing is a humorous fairytale, The Professional is anything but funny but shows my character justifying what it is they do, and Books and the Barbarians looks at how emerging literacy changes a community. All great fun to write but so different in mood.

And I love that about flash fiction. All three of these tales are at the 1000 word maximum word count for flash but I took my characters in very different directions here.

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Fairytales With Bite – Magazines for the Magical

I’ve been delighted this week to appear in Mom’s Favorite Reads for the first time with an article on flash fiction (and I share a tale here too). See https://moms-favorite-reads.com/2021/06/01/moms-favorite-reads-emagazine-june-2021/ for more info. (You can also find out what role sharks play in my writing journey too).

But this led me to wonder what kind of periodicals might be found in a magical environment (as you do!).

Witch Wand – well there has to be a magazine dealing with magical equipment. If you’re going to show off with what you’ve got here, you want to have the equipment with the best reviews. This magazine will help a lot there!

The Best Spells for Arrogant Heroes – one for the fairy godmother or witch wanting to cut someone down to size. This is usually done by transforming said arrogant hero into an unsightly beast for a bit. So your average fairy godmother and witch will want a useful guide as to which spells would work best so to have all that info in an easy to read magazine would do the job nicely.

Wizard World – definitely one for the blokes and has a handy job adverts page for those wizards seeking apprentices.

Food and Drink – A Magical Guide. Useful for evil stepmothers to work out the best foods to use for poisoning purposes. Also useful for those wanting to plant edible things that a visitor to their world will want to eat or drink so they can get to the next stage in their journey. (Greedy girls called Alice will like that).

Wildlife Care – Useful for those fairy godmothers who like transforming wildlife into footmen, coaches etc. Will give advice on how to look after those creatures before and after their transformations (assuming they survive it of course).

 

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This World and Others – Literacy

Is your fictional world literate? If not, why not? What does it do to be able to communicate and make its people(s) understand instructions etc if reading and writing are not options?

If it is literate, what is this based on? Texts as we know them or work that is written on stone tablets? Are only certain beings allowed to be literate? How is literacy taught and is there such a thing as fictional books in your world?

If you have a world that is trying to improve itself via literacy, what made them decide to do that? Are they making good progress?

If literacy is forbidden, why is this? Are there “underground” libraries or readers? Are books valued by the general population?

I know I appreciate literacy. I love history, both fictional and fact, and am well aware had I been born in medieval times, I would’ve been an illiterate peasant! I can’t imagine my life without books but that’s a good thing. But stories can be created by coming up with worlds and peoples where literacy is not a given thing.

Happy writing!

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Stories, Audio Books, Reviews, and Unexpected Publication News

Image Credit:-

All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated.

Some images created in Book Brush using Pixabay photos.

Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.

Hope you enjoyed the weekend. I share two new stories below and publication news (which came about unexpectedly – see below for more. I don’t usually have unexpected publication news!).

The Writing Journey

Facebook – General

Pleased to share my blog for Authors Electric for this month. This time, I talk about the joy of audio books. What are your favourites? Do you “save” audio books for specific occasions? I listen to most of mine on long journeys (so now we can hopefully start getting out and about again, I can resume this particular pleasure!). Highly recommend the Terry Pratchett Discworld audio books read by Sir Tony Robinson. I adore those.

A right old mix of sunshine and heavy showers today. Still doesn’t feel like May. Am beginning to wonder if it ever will do! But I do know the thing to hopefully cheer us up a bit.

The Week That Was is my latest CafeLit story. I hope you’ll find it to be a lighthearted start to the week. (And lighthearted is always a good way to finish off a Monday, I find). Oh and if you pop over to my From Light to Dark and Back Again page in a moment or two, there’ll be another story for you there. It is story time! See below for that!

Screenshot_2021-05-17 The Week That Was

PS. Also looking forward to giving my flash fiction talk to the Byre Writers on 31st July. Many thanks for the invite, folks!

Screenshot_2021-05-17 (7) The Byre Writers Facebook(1)Screenshot_2021-05-17 (7) The Byre Writers Facebook

 

The heavens truly opened in soggy Hampshire today! It still doesn’t feel like May but maybe we’re moving on from it feeling like March to it feeling like April with unexpected showers etc. I guess it’s progress of a kind!

Glad to say I will have a new story up on CafeLit tomorrow which is one of my lighter tales. Looking forward to sharing that – hopefully it will prove to be an amusing start to a new working week. See above!

My Chandler’s Ford Today post later in the week will be on Reflections where I discuss reflection and the creative life. I’ll also have an Authors Electric post to share this week so plenty going on with the blogging side of my writing. See above for AE blog. Looking forward to sharing CFT on Friday.

And there is always the flash fiction to write… talking of which it’s time to be off and get on with some!

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Unexpected Publication News!

In one of those odd turn of events which happen sometimes, I am pleased to announce my story, Next Time, Maybe will be in the Bridge House Publishing anthology later this year after all. Will share more news about Resolutions (the anthology title) nearer the time.

Lovely to see more comments come in on #FridayFlashFiction for my story Got You! It’s the first time I’ve been inspired to write a flash or other piece thanks to a cartoon on Facebook. Just goes to show, I think, that inspiration and ideas can come from almost anywhere. It is working out the strongest ideas, the ones most likely to work that can be tricky.

Screenshot_2021-05-18 Got You by Allison Symes

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again


Just to flag up there is currently an offer on Amazon for the paperback of Tripping the Flash Fantastic. See http://mybook.to/TrippingFlashFantastic for more details.

Hoped you enjoyed the CafeLit story shared on my author page yesterday (The Week That Was) (see above) and the story video here (Mistakes). (See below). Good to start the week with stories!

Flash is great to read out loud at events, easy to share on Zoom talks and the like, and can be easily shared on social media as part of an overall marketing plan. But having to invent loads of different characters is for me the most fun thing about writing flash and keeps me on my toes and out of mischief.

 


Pleased to share my latest story video with you. This one is Mistakes (and haven’t we all had several of those!). Hope you enjoy this one (oh and let this one be a warning to never get on the wrong side of a librarian).

PS. If you pop over to my author page on Facebook (Allison Symes), you’ll see another story from me – this time it’s my latest on CafeLit. Monday is story time day! Hope you enjoy The Week That Was. See above.

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Flash fiction writing has shown me how to focus on what is important to a character, given there can often be more than one interesting thread to follow here. (Not a problem. You end up with two or three linked flash fiction stories using the same character or accept you probably would be writing up to the 1000 word count limit).

Learning to focus is an essential skill for whatever kind of writing you do. That, and not being afraid of editing any more, are two of the biggest things flash fiction writing has done for me.

Oh and a huge thank you for the wonderful comments on my story Got You! which appeared on #FridayFlashFiction this week. It is lovely getting feedback like this and so, so helpful. (Just in case you missed the tale you can see it here at https://www.fridayflashfiction.com/100-word-stories/got-you-by-allison-symes). Link also shared above but, as well as plugging my stories, I am all for plugging sites like Friday Flash Fiction and CafeLit! They give authors a voice…

Choices



Glad to say I’ll be giving another author talk on flash fiction in July. Looking forward to that. I love discussing flash and what it has done for me as a writer. As well as the collections being out, flash fiction has taught me so much about showing and not telling. I’m also not afraid of editing any more. All of that is useful no matter what you write.

And Zoom of course has made these kind of talks easier to do. Hard to imagine life without it now. I often read examples of my works when giving a talk (as it is one of the best ways of demonstrating what flash fiction is) so I am getting some practice in for Open Mic Nights too!

Goodreads Author Blog – Book Reviews

Do you find book reviews useful?

Now, hands up time, as a writer, I obviously do. Reviews are a great way to get feedback on your work (even if sometimes it is not the feedback you really want – but there it pays to remember not everyone will like what you do anyway and that’s fine. Tastes are subjective after all).

Also I can flag up the reviews I have had as part of my overall marketing strategy.

BUT the review, whether it is long or short, HAS to tell me what the reader liked/disliked. Just leaving a star rating doesn’t tell the author much. The review also has to be honest and to give a reader a flavour of the book in question without giving out spoilers.

A review like that is far more likely to make me try out a new book and author than anything else. (I am guided by reviews for other things too incidentally. Usually there is a consensus of opinion and that can tell you a great deal).

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A Questionable Choice, Spoilers, and Characterisation

Image Credit:-

All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated.

Some images created in Book Brush using Pixabay photos.

Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.

Hope you had a good weekend. Weather continues to be strange for the time of year here. Oh and writing wise, one rejection and one acceptance this week!

The Writing Journey

Facebook – General


Enjoyed my first swim of the week today but it is the hardest one of the week to do! And I knew I’d tired Lady out this morning as she didn’t get off the sofa to come and greet me. It looked as if she’d just woken up as she looked at me as if to say “you’re back, then!”

What I love about writing (and I promise to keep this short, honest!):-

  • Inventing characters
  • Inventing things for them to say and do
  • Putting them in conflict with each other and/or their environment and enjoying the show as they battle it out! (I know, I know… I am a nice girl really, honest).
  • Editing my draft and almost feeling the story “tighten” up and be so much better than that first draft.
  • Submitting the finished story.
  • Being told it has been accepted or if I’m preparing a story for use on my website or Youtube channel, creating a video to go with it.

All great fun and now back to it!

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Hope you had a good weekend. Another blustery day in Hampshire today, Still feels like flaming March!

I found out yesterday the story I submitted for the annual Bridge House Publishing anthology didn’t make it. On the plus side a story I sent to CafeLit will be appearing next week! Will share the link when I have it.

I will at some point have another look at my BHP story and see if I can submit it somewhere else. I often can (and there is always the possibility of including it in a single author collection – nothing is wasted in writing. I’ve found I can recycle most things in some way and sometimes a story turned down in one place is accepted by another).

You never lose the buzz of being published so, yes, having a turn down is always disappointing but I’ve also been encouraged by all those times when I have been able to recycle a story elsewhere. So I know I can have a crack at that again. And there is always the next story to work on! There is always a next story!


My Chandler’s Ford Today post later this coming week will be on the theme of Understanding. (Couldn’t we all do with more of that in the world?). I look at how reading encourages empathy and why this is good for you. I also have a look at understanding how stories work. I’ve found learning this has helped me as I craft my flash and other stories. Look forward to sharing this on Friday.

Have discovered a one-star review for Tripping the Flash Fantastic but there’s no name or comment left with it. Does this mean I have “arrived”?! I know everyone gets them…! (I guess it gets my number of reviews up anyway! – Oh and yes please to anyone who hasn’t yet reviewed TTFF – reviews are always helpful. Thanks!).

Also a big hello to those newly signed up to my author newsletter. Good to have you aboard. Hope you enjoy the freebie (which you’ll find as a link in the welcome email). I share tips, flash stories, as well as news here on the 1st of each month – if you would like to sign up please head to my landing page at https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com

Am working on a piece I hope to submit to an online magazine later this week – am loving writing it and reading back issues of the magazine too. Yes, I do always read copies of anything I am hoping to submit work to – how else will you get a feel for the style they want? And it is huge fun to do of course!

Hope you have had a good Saturday. Can’t believe the weather. More like March than May out there. Still Lady got to have an excellent run with a whippet, Milo, earlier today, and a good time was had by all. Lady can keep up with, and sometimes outrun, your average whippet. Yes, she is that fast. Equally fast at coming through for when she just knows it’s dinner time. Strange that.

One of the things I love about characterisation is when it is done well, you do feel as if you are inside that character’s head and can almost feel their pains, their joys etc. I’m currently reading a book for someone where they have got the narrative voice down so well, it almost takes my breath away and it is a sheer joy to read because of that.

A character that grips you is one that will grip the reader. Think about what kind of characters you like. What is it about them that appeals? Look for ways of reproducing that for when you plan out your characters.

If you like honesty as a trait, how will your lead character show that honesty? Is that honesty welcome or does it land them right in it? Think about the things that could come from that honesty – another character being honest back could tell your lead person truths about themselves they won’t like which could set off a chain of events.

If your characters don’t engage you, they won’t for anyone else. You do have to like your people, people (!), even if you loathe what they go on and do in your story.

 

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again


Many thanks for the great responses to my story video, A Questionable Choice. Also thanks to those who put comments up on my Youtube channel. If you’d like to subscribe to this the link you need is https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCPCiePD4p_vWp4bz2d80SJA

I usually create a story on a Sunday and upload it for a Monday. This is a great way of sharing mini-tales!

Screenshot_2021-05-11 Allison Symes


Pleased to share my latest story video, A Questionable Choice, with you. Hope you enjoy. (And a big welcome to my most recent subscribers too). As ever, I created this one in Book Brush, uploaded it to Youtube, and added a free to use music track. (Youtube have a great audio library and a huge thank you to Dawn Kentish Knox for flagging that up).


I chatted about spoilers for my Goodreads blog this week but another advantage to flash fiction is you can’t really have them here! The form is too short to stand such things. By the time you’ve skim read the story to work out what the spoiler might be, you have in fact read the tale!

One thing you can do with flash though is analyse your stories. Now you may argue surely the form is too short for that but I’ve found this isn’t the case. I still need to ask myself does this character work? Do they convince me? I also look at whether I’ve placed the lines (in some cases individual words – see my post from yesterday on this) in the right places to trigger the most impact on a reader.

I also analyse stories I read, of any length, to work out what made these work for me. I can then learn from that and apply it to my own fiction. I can do the same with non-fiction pieces and learn from that for my Chandler’s Ford Today, Authors Electric, More Than Writers posts etc.

Writing is good for you not just because it stretches you creatively, it encourages you to learn. Every writer learns from those who have gone before us and our contemporaries. What that should do is encourage us to “up our game” and produce even better stories, articles etc.

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If I have one favourite flash tale of mine, it has to be Calling the Doctor. See book trailer below! The reason I like it is because I change the whole mood of the story with the last word. And you can have great fun placing your words at the right places to create maximum impact on your readers. Had I used that last word for this story earlier on, it would simply have become a spoiler. (No spoilers here, thank you!).

This is one of those tales where I did know the ending first and worked backwards to get to a logical starting point. For those stories with twist endings and punchlines, I do think that is the best approach to writing them. It works for me!


Goodreads Author Blog – Spoilers

I have a simple attitude towards book/story/film spoilers – I avoid them! But almost inevitably there are times when, despite everything, you come across the wretched things.

Now do these stop you reading the book/story or watching the film? They don’t for me. I tend to then read/watch to find out if the spoiler did reveal everything or whether there were bits left unrevealed for me to discover.

When writing my flash collections, I need to give enough information away to hopefully get readers to want to check my books out but without telling them everything. It’s not an easy balancing act to get right.

So how much is too much information?

I don’t want to find out the endings, I really do want to find out for myself. I don’t mind being told something like there are plenty of surprises, one of the major characters doesn’t make it (because I then have to read or watch to find out who that was), but I don’t want name drops or to be told the ending is a miserable one. If the story has to end miserably, I want to find out myself and see that the ending is appropriate.

And if the ending isn’t appropriate for the characters and the story being told, I consider that a spoiler. A writer has to deliver on the promise of their story after all.

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Decisions, Transformations, and Useful Questions

Image Credit:-

All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated.

Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.

Image of Dawn Knox kindly supplied by her.

Facebook – General

Hope you’ve had a good Tuesday. I see we’re due for sleet in Hampshire on Friday. At least we have made it into December first before any signs of the really cold stuff!

I will be posting Part 2 of a wonderful chat with Dawn Knox on Chandler’s Ford Today on Friday and am looking forward to sharing the link for that. She’ll be talking about how she got into flash fiction writing and shares what has been the most fulfilling aspect of her career to date.

One lovely thing about writing is you never know quite where things will lead but this is a good thing. My short story writing led me to discover flash for a start! But the other good thing is you should seek to develop and to improve on what you do. This can lead to trying out forms of writing new to you and discovering you can add another string to your writing bow. More from Dawn on this, along with other lovely things to chat about, on Friday.

Now NaNoWriMo has officially finished, how did I do with my “kind of” version? Well, I was pleased. I’ve carried out the restructuring I knew my non-fiction project needed and added a great deal of useful material to it. So win-win. I’m carrying on with this as I want to get a first draft done by the end of the year but am on track to do that.

 

I’ve been having fun with Book Brush again. This time I created a story video, uploaded it to Youtube, and then used their audio library to add a soundtrack to the video. I always check out licences allocated to things like images and audio tracks and this one is a free to use one. Always, always, check out what the licences say. You don’t want to break copyright. You really, really don’t. I’ve got used to doing this thanks to writing for Chandler’s Ford Today so regularly. (And it’s why I love Pixabay!).

Creating the video was good fun and I hope you enjoy the story. I was particularly pleased with the background I used as the video here as the movement of the word “sale” reminded me of the way Jaws moved through the water! Apt for the tale but click the link to find out why.

Facebook – General – and Association of Christian Writers More Than Writers blog spot

It’s my turn on the Association of Christian Writers More than Writers blog. My piece this time is called NaNoWriMo – Doing It My Way. Well it’s kind of appropriate given I haven’t written a novel and I know I’m probably under 50,000 words. So how come I even thought about doing this? See the post for more – and I have found the experience incredibly useful for helping with focus. Hope you enjoy!

 

Facebook – General – and PUBLICATION NEWS – TRANSFORMATIONS


Busy night tonight – I have two posts for you.

It is with great pleasure I share further publication news. I’m pleased to say the three e-books that comprise the stories from the winners of the Waterloo Arts Festival writing competition have now been combined to make one wonderful paperback called Transformations. (The three ebooks were To Be…To Become, Transforming Being, and this year’s Transforming Communities).

Link to follow in due course but meanwhile here is the fantastic cover. Many congratulations to all of the other writers who are “between the covers” with me for this one.

Oh and I love the cover for this.

Transformations Medium

SECOND POST

I posted about this topic over on Val’s Book Bundle on Facebook on Wednesday but thought I would expand on the topic here. I asked what people’s favourite part of a book was and my answer was the moment I realise I am rooting for the character(s).

Sometimes I root for them to fail if they’re the villain but the important point is the character is making me react and from that point onwards, I know the story will be fine. No reaction = no interest in the character = no interest in the book!

So developing this further, how can we get a reader to react to our characters?

The simple – and all at the same time complicated – answer to that is to make the reader care about what happens to said character. Simple because it really is down to that. Complicated because just how do you do this?

I outline my characters before I write a story. Sometimes that outline is a brief paragraph, sometimes it’s longer than that, but by the time I’ve done this I have worked out why it is I want to write this character up. I am feeling something for that character. And I can feel something for that character, a reader will. Thinking of questions to ask your character can be useful.

Try these to get you started.

1. What is the character’s main trait?

Can be good or evil or somewhere in between. Think about what would come out from your character if they were really put under pressure if you’re not sure what the main trait might be. Would your character show courage or run away at the first sign of trouble?

Whatever the answer to that is, think about why the answer is as you have given it. If a character would run away for example, is that because they have tried to help before and all it did was land them right in it? Jot down your thoughts. Your story thoughts may well start “sparking” from what you note down.

2. What is it about the character you as their creator like/dislike?

Your readers are likely to feel the same way!

3. Why do you want to write their story? Why does it matter?

If you’re looking to just write a funny story to amuse people, that’s fab. That is just as valid a reason to write as writing a story with purpose behind it. But you still need to think about how your character would amuse people and that will often come down to their main traits. For example, a character who is a loudmouth can set themselves up for a fall and that can be funny or tragic.

An outline doesn’t have to spell out everything. You want some room for your imagination to kick in with other ideas but it is a great place to start!

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

I use the first person a lot for my flash tales but when I do name a character what do I look for in that name? I look for a name that will reflect something about the character and sometimes I choose age. In my story Identity in Tripping The Flash Fantastic, I chose the name Walter. That immediately called to my mind an older gentleman which is what I wanted for this story. (Making this decision was helped along by the fact my maternal grandfather was called Walter!).

Books of names help a lot here of course but looking up articles from old newspapers can also be a good source of information. If you know your character is going to be in their seventies, for example, you can look up articles from around the time they would be born and look at the names in the paper to get a feel for what names were in common usage then. And don’t forget to look up the family announcement pages too. Those can also help trigger ideas.

Names can be a great tag in flash fiction. They can be an indicator of class, as well as age, and you can use that to good effect. Telling details carry weight in short form writing. For a writing exercise I was set at Swanwick once, I came up with the phrase “take the Garibaldi” as I needed to get my character to say “take the biscuit” but I didn’t want to use the cliche.

Cliches are cliches for a reason but you can have fun subverting them, having said that. But if I had put something like “take the Lidl’s Rich Tea” instead, I could’ve indicated likely background of my character just by referring to the supermarket they use. So think of names, personal or otherwise, as useful tags here.

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Eleven months down, one to go! What a strange year 2020 has been. If 2020 had a strapline, it would probably read something like “2020: The Year That Delivered Something Nobody Wanted” or “2020: The Year Everyone Wants to Forget”!

Over on my author Facebook page,I shared the link to a new story video on my Youtube channel called Decisions. It was great fun playing with both Book Brush and Youtube for this but it is the one line stories that work really well for this kind of thing. You don’t want a video to be too long. So therefore the story can’t be too long either. So this will be an outlet I think for my one/two line stories in future. And, of course, it acts as an advert. Looking forward to doing more with this.

One thing I love about any kind of creativity endeavour is it often helps you develop others as you try to improve on what you do and find new ways of doing exactly that.

And do see writing one-or two line stories as good practice for blurb and strapline writing even if your main writing is something else entirely. These also make great warm up writing exercises.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCPCiePD4p_vWp4bz2d80SJA


Hope you enjoyed The Buddies yesterday. (N.B. See further down for this new story!). I like to mix up how I approach writing flash fiction as it keeps things fresh for me (and hopefully for readers too). Using the various random generators is a great way of mixing things up.

And another way of using the word based ones would be to deliberately place the words generated in the opening or closing lines or somewhere in the middle and then work out a story from there. Equally you can put the words in the title and nowhere else and then crack on with the tale. But there are different ways of using these things so the only limit should be your own imagination here!

Don’t forget to mix up the word counts to write to as well. There’s nothing to stop you taking an opening line and then writing a 50 word story from it. Then see what you can do when you make it 100 words and so on.

Above all enjoy your writing!

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I thought I would take another look at the good old random word generator and I was delighted to find some other parameters to tick. You can select names too! I generated two and came up with Charlie and Elsa.
Things to do here:-

  • Use the names in the story.
  • Turn this into a full name – e.g. Elsa Charlie or Charlie Elsa and put this one character into a story.
  • Use another character who shows the reader what these people/this person means to them. For example in a crime story, Elsa and Charlie could be two people who ripped the narrator off. Equally the narrator could be the one to con them!

So plenty of possibilities here! Now let’s see what I can do here…

The Buddies
The park bench is empty now. It used to be the three of us on there – Elsa, Charlie, and me. Went to school together, even ended up working for the same boss. Always good for a laugh those two. We were known around these parts as the Cheery Trio. Elsa and Charlie married and I was their best man. It was a lovely day. They were married for 55 years, bless them.
I met Mary at their wedding, she was Elsa’s cousin. We all laughed at how that worked out. Mary and I were married for 52. Good years for the most part. None of us had kids though. Just didn’t happen. Had lots of fun trying but sometimes things just don’t work out and you have to accept that and move on.
We’ve all moved on.
But now Elsa, Charlie, Mary and I are together again. Right here on the park bench. We’re allowed out to come here sometimes.
Just a pity you lot can’t see us but we can see you.
No such thing as ghosts?
Ha! The four of us have plenty to say about that!

Ends.
Allison Symes – 28th November 2020

Hope you enjoy!

Goodreads – Christmas Book List

Well, I trust you do have plenty of books on your Christmas wish list! There is a tradition in one of the Nordic countries where Christmas Eve is spent eating chocolate and reading books. I like that – a lot!

Don’t forget audio books. There are plenty of ways to take in stories. Reading will always be my first love but listening to stories comes in at a respectable second. And these are great for people who might not want to sit down with a book but who are happy to listen to a story while doing something else. You take in more than you might think.

Re-reading Terry Pratchett’s Hogfather and watching the adaptation of it is on my list of things to do and A Christmas Carol will be on the agenda for me to revisit again at some point in the run up to Christmas. I’ll almost certainly be watching the Muppet version. Not only is that a great adaptation, Gonzo, as narrator Charles Dickens, reminds people to go and read the book at the end of the film. I love that and I’d always second that suggestion!

Okay, you know when you’ve got books as presents. The shape is a dead giveaway but it doesn’t matter if you know what’s in the wrapping. There will always be something special about unwrapping a book for Christmas.

And they do make fabulous presents.

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