Interview Part 2 with Jenny Sanders, Shout-outs, and Getting Steamed Up

Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Many thanks to Jenny Sanders for supplying author, book, and other pictures for my Chandler’s Ford Today post this week. As ever, screenshots were taken by me, Allison Symes.
Hope you have had a good working week. Nice surprises this week – unexpected shoutouts for Tripping the Flash Fantastic and I will be glad to share further publication news very soon too. (And it stopped raining for a bit too so Lady and I consider that a win!).

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Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

It’s with great pleasure I welcome back Jenny Sanders to Chandler’s Ford Today for Part 2 of a stunning interview (and many thanks for the comments coming in on this already).

This week, Jenny and I discuss writing devotionals, short stories, and flash fiction. The latter especially is another example of where Jenny and I cross (writing) paths – hence the title for this interview this week. Hope you enjoy.

The writing journey can take you on all sorts of interesting pathways as Jenny and I have both found.

Crossing Paths with Jenny Sanders – Flash Fiction, Devotionals, and Short Stories- Part 2

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Many thanks to #ValPenny for a lovely shout-out today for Tripping the Flash Fantastic. That was a lovely surprise, as was the fabulous comment from #JoyWood. Now that is what I call a review! Thank you, ladies.

Also had a further nice surprise when I gave someone, a fellow dog walker, one of my business cards as they’re interested in my books. Now that’s music to a writer’s ears, is it not?

Don’t forget, as well as getting copies of TTFF and From Light to Dark and Back Again, online (usual outlets), you can contact me via my website at https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com if you would like a signed copy (or copies) directly from me. See my contact page.

Talking of flash fiction, I’ll be discussing that very topic, amongst others, with Jenny Sanders in Part 2 of her interview on Chandler’s Ford Today. Link up tomorrow. See above.

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Lady got to play with her best buddy, the lovely Ridgeback today, and after Monday’s weather, it was so lovely to have a nice day out in the park today. Nice to come home still dry too!

Am enjoying the Flash NANO challenges especially as there is great variety in them. Looking forward to tackling today’s one later on. I deliberately mix up the random generators I use to produce stories. I don’t want to limit myself to one type. I think this has stood me in good stead for Flash NANO. Best of all, it’s fun anyway!

I was impressed – my train tickets for the Bridge House Publishing event arrived today. I only ordered them a couple of days ago. So looking forward to catching up with people again here (and I hope making new friends too).

AE - November 2022 - Taking part in Flash NANO

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

It’s Friday. It’s time for another story. (Think it is quite nice to start the working week with one on my YouTube channel and to finish said working week with another one on Friday Flash Fiction). Am pleased to say Getting Steamed Up is my latest tale on Friday Flash Fiction. This one started life in response to a Flash NANO prompt. Hope you enjoy it.

Screenshot 2022-11-25 at 09-38-34 Getting Steamed Up by Allison Symes

Many thanks to #FridayFlashFiction for commenting on my post yesterday about one of the disciplines of flash fiction. Couldn’t agree more – see screenshot if you missed the post. Don’t forget a new batch of stories will be up tomorrow and do check out what’s on there.

Fabulous reading and catching up with stories via websites like this can be a great way to ensure you get some contemporary flash fiction reading in as part of your “reading diet”. I consciously try to ensure I read in and out of my genre, past and present work, books, magazines etc. It keeps life interesting for a start. It’s fun too!

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One of the disciplines of flash fiction (which comes in useful for other forms of writing) is in knowing where and when to stop! You tell your story, your character has done/said all they needed to do/say, and then you stop. I find the word count restriction helps here.

The End really does have to be the end. It can be tempting to add in a kind of concluding bit. Flash writing cures you of that habit quickly as you can only include anything which moves the story on in some way. There really is no room for anything else and that’s good. Your focus is sharpened thanks to this.

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Fairytales with Bite – Who Guards The Guards?

In a magical setting, there should be some way to measure magical standards. One way is obviously through schooling and exams but what about later? Who ensures standards are kept up by fairy godmothers and the like? Who ensures short cuts aren’t being taken which could endanger others? Who sets the standards people need to stick to in the first place and have these ever been changed or challenged?

Is there a magical enforcement agency of any kind and, If so, who guards those guards to ensure they’re doing their job properly? Is the agency a good one or are they the equivalent of the old Keystone Cops (i.e. fit for comic purposes only)?

Are the guardians of magical standards respected or feared? (Could be both but I find it interesting where a body like that is respected rather than feared. It would tend to show me that these people are doing their job in a way that benefits the people and there could be stories here about where the public helps the agency solve magical crimes, prevents standards slipping and so on precisely because that respect exists. People don’t tend to assist those they fear unless they have no choice).

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This World and Others – Law Making

In your fictional setting, does law making tend to follow the pattern we have here of parliamentary democracy or dictatorship? How do laws get made and passed? Do people have any say in this? Can people petition the likes of their local councillors/MPs? And when laws are passed how are people informed about them? How long does a new law take to be implemented fully?

Does your world have a separate civil/criminal law making body/bodies?

In the case of longstanding laws, what could make the authorities change these? Do they update laws where situations/technologies and the like have changed? That kind of change can make some laws redundant. For example, we no longer need a man with a red flag walking in front of a motor vehicle to warn pedestrians a car was on the road!

Is the law respected or mocked (even if the latter is done privately)? Are there laws which desperately need scrapping or an update and who/what is blocking that? Plenty of stories to be had there I think!

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Screenshot 2022-11-25 at 20-47-42 Reader Hub Book Brush

Opening Lines, a Reading Acrostic, and a Reader Hub

Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots (and photo of Lady) were taken by me, Allison Symes. Many thanks to Dawn Kentish Knox for taking the photo of me reading at a previous Bridge House Publishing event. Very much looking forward to going to the 2022 one!
Hope you have had a good few days – weather stormy and then next day gorgeous sunshine. It’s a case of looking out of the window and thinking big coat or not today then! This will be the position for the next few months – certainly till at least early March.

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Facebook – General

Hope you’ve had a good day. Lady got to play with her “boyfriend”, a lovely tri-coloured Aussie Shepherd today. Both got a good run!

Am looking forward to sharing Part 2 of my interview with Jenny Sanders on Chandler’s Ford Today on Friday. This week we’ll be discussing short stories and flash fiction, other areas in which our paths have crossed, writing wise.

Have booked my tickets for the Bridge House Publishing event in London on 3rd December. Looking forward to that very much. Will be giving a reading at that event too. Flash is ideal for that kind of thing – you cannot go on for too long!

 

To say Lady and I got wet this morning is something of an understatement. Had Noah been passing, we’d have thumbed a lift.

Now I use Book Brush to design graphics with and I love using their tools to help me achieve great images for my blog posts. (I use them all the time for Chandler’s Ford Today, Authors Electric, Mom’s Favorite Reads, More than Writers etc). I’ve now set up my Reader Hub page on this (it is a new feature) where I can share pictures, my social media links and a bit about what I write, all in one handy place. Very pleased with this and am sure it will prove useful.
Screenshot 2022-11-21 at 20-00-26 Allison Symes - Author Reader HubProgressing well with Flash NANO. One of my pieces for this I plan to use for my YouTube tale this week so look out for that when I share the link tomorrow. See below. I’ve mentioned before about having a “stock” of stories ready for competitions, markets etc. Taking part in Flash NANO is a great way to build up a good stock!

I’ve shared a couple of my pieces on the Flash NANO Facebook group (as these stories needed little alteration) but I won’t share everything there because I know there is plenty of work to do on my other tales before I want anyone else seeing them! Having said that, I am loving reading what others are sharing here – it does to pay to read in your genre as well as outside of it. It always reminds me of why I love the flash format. And it is such a fun thing to do so win-win!

 

Hope you have had a good day. Many thanks for the lovely comments coming in on Cat Chat, my new tale (or should that be tail?) on Friday Flash Fiction. I write stories from an animal’s point of view every so often. They’re fun to do. But, as with any story, the character voice must be strong enough to be convincing.

Am looking forward to sharing Part 2 of my interview with Jenny Sanders on Chandler’s Ford Today next week (and again thanks to all who have responded so well to Part 1 where the post was shared on social media yesterday. Lots of memories about schools programming from years ago!) Part 2 will look at where Jenny and I cross paths with regard to short story and flash fiction writing.

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

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Am looking forward to the Association of Christian Writers Flash Fiction group meeting on Zoom next week. It is a lovely time to catch up with writing news, share details of competitions etc, and I usually share a short presentation.

Writing wise, I am already beginning to think about stories for a future (fourth) collection. It does take time to build these up but Flash NANO is going to be a good contributor here!

Have got a story in draft which I want to enter for a competition before the year is out. Currently resting it but hope to have another look at it over the weekend. I can’t stress enough how useful it is to have time away from a story as I find I pick up various things to put right having given myself enough distance away from the piece. It really is worth doing.

Time away

It has been the kind of Monday that makes Noah wonder if it’s time to set sail again so definitely time for a new YouTube story from me. This one, Looking and Finding, is one of my responses to the Flash NANO challenges set so far for this year. The 19 word story, all in! Hope you enjoy it. (I didn’t include the title as part of the word count for this or for the Flash NANO challenge itself but this was great fun to write and will resonate with cat owners and Tom and Jerry fans in particular).


What makes for a good opening line for me? It’s something that draws me in, sets up an interesting premise, and gives me that “I’ve got to find out what happens here” feeling. Only one way to do that – read the story – job done! But…

The job is only done if that vital closing line does its job well and delivers on the promise set by the opening one.

This is why I like to outline my flash and other stories. I don’t need to work out everything but I do need to know how I am going to get from A to B with a rough idea of the stopping points on that journey. In a flash tale, even at the 1000 words upper limit, I often only need a line (which will form the basis of Start Point A), a rough line about what happens in the middle, and another line summing up how the story finishes (my finishing point B). For a longer tale I might need a couple of lines for each of the three points of my story.

I’ve found outlining doesn’t take too long and has saved me a lot of grief. I no longer box myself into a corner with my story. I’ve only scrapped two stories in my time because I hadn’t outlined and I did box myself in as a result of that.

Don’t forget my author newsletter goes out on the first of the month and I do share tips here, especially those pertinent to flash story writing. Last time I shared a pdf I’d created for a flash fiction group I run on Zoom (the ACW one). If you’d like to sign up head over to my landing page at https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com – you would be most welcome! A big thanks to all who are already subscribers too.

One of the Flash NANO challenges is in the form of an exercise I’ve done before – to cut a story in half word count wise. It’s a great exercise to work on your editing skills as the story still has to make sense and to not lose anything important to its meaning. This kind of exercise though is not the type you can do in five minutes. What I’m hoping to do with mine is have it done by the end of Flash NANO at the end of the month.

Goodreads Author Blog – READING ACROSTIC

R= Reading is wonderful and inspires further stories to be written.
E = Educational and entertaining – what is there not to like?
A = Animals, aliens, all sorts of characters end up being the heroes and villains in the stories.
D = Dialogue in books and stories is like overhearing an intriguing conversation where you have to find out what happens.
I = Imagination – reading fires this up considerably even if you don’t write yourself.
N = Novels, novellas, short stories, flash fiction, non-fiction, articles, books, magazines – there is something to suit you somewhere!
G = Great reading can cross centuries – there is no time limit on how long a book or story can be good for.

Screenshot 2022-11-19 at 18-01-56 Reading Acrostic

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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!

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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

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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.

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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?

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Story Ideas and Identifying with Characters

Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes. Hope you have had a good weekend. Lovely family do. We all had a fantastic time and Lady was spoiled rotten so she had a great time too. Looking forward to a short break next week (am still hoping to post but will have to play things by ear here. A lot will depend on my internet connection!).

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Facebook – General

When I’m thinking of potential story ideas, I ask immediately what kind of character would “serve” that potential tale well. I then look at what makes the character stand out for me in this role (because if they stand out for me, they’ll stand out for a reader too). This is why knowing what makes my character tick is so important for me. It helps me to get into their head, work out how they would think and speak and so on.

I also know what are the kinds of things my character would not say. Funnily enough that can be useful because I might get them to start saying it if they are under so much stress they come out with something they usually wouldn’t. Readers would identify with that given this is something most of us would do. But the stress has to come out of the character’s situation. It should be the kind of thing that would stress us out too.

May be an image of text that says "01, Understanding what makes US tick is crucial for understanding what makes your characters tick."

Hope the week has got off to a good start for you. Not bad here – recovering a from family do at the weekend. Much fun had by all.

I’m looking at Breaks for Chandler’s Ford Today this coming Friday. Aptly since I’ll be heading off for an autumn break with my other half soon. I will also look at breaks for characters in fiction and ask whether there is any such thing as a lucky break for writers. Link up on Friday.

Later this month, I’ll be interviewing the fantastically funny #Ruth Leigh and if you have read her Isabella M Smugge books, you’ll know why using a hashtag is so appropriate. If you haven’t, go on, what are you waiting for? Looking forward to sharing more on that interview nearer the time.

Chandler's Ford Today post reminder picture(1)

Pleased to say the October issue of Mom’s Favorite Reads is now out and, as ever, it is free to download. I talk about Character Profiles in Flash Fiction this time and share how I use random generators to create such things.

The random question one is especially useful here and my flash fiction challenge this time was to have a character answer a randomly generated question (which was about wishes). I also invited people to generate a random name for their character if they wanted to and I did so with my own tale for this piece.

Hope you enjoy and do check out the whole magazine. It is a fabulous read. I have two links for you this time. One takes you to Issu and the other takes you to Amazon.

 

Hope you have had a good day. A bit later than usual with my posts tonight given I’ve had a family “do” today. It was lovely to see everyone, the weather held (and I am grateful to God for that – tomorrow’s forecast is grim and timings are not in my hands!), and Lady has a fabulous time with Lily, another family dog. Both dogs got spoiled rotten too so they have had an excellent afternoon!

Managed to get my author newsletter out this morning ahead of “kick off” so pleased about that. It was also lovely to catch up with my lovely editor at Chandler’s Ford Today and her other half at today’s do and am looking forward to joining them for the next Chameleon Theatre Group play later this month.

Many thanks for the lovely comments coming in on Coming Home, my new tale on Friday Flash Fiction. In case you missed it, please see the link below.

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

How much do you need to know about characters before you start writing a flash tale? I need to know major trait. I can then look at the virtues (and otherwise) from that trait. There is always a flip side! Often story ideas begin to emerge just from doing that.

When I have a twist ending or a humorous punchline “good to go”, I then work out the kind of character who could deliver that twist or punchline. A sombre character is highly unlikely to come out with a laugh out loud line. A Jack the Lad type of character is unlikely to come out with something which stuns people with its philosophical genius.

Yes, there are always exceptions to the rule but you would probably need a longer length of story to establish why these characters are the exceptions. Flash relies on “shortcuts” so if you have got a Jack the Lad character, readers will have a good idea of what to expect from them without you having to spell it all out. Does that mean the character has to be a cliche? Far from it!

Your Jack the Lad character will bring something unique to them to your story. It’s why you’re writing about this character. There still has to be something special about them. Readers will pick up on this and understand why you have to write their tale up rather than than that of another character.

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

It’s Monday. It’s getting dark. It’s getting cold. And it is still Monday. Time for a story then.
Hope you enjoy my latest on YouTube – All In The Timing. It so often is too!

 

I often read out some flash tales when giving a workshop as it is the single best way I think to demonstrate what flash fiction is and can do in ways of impact on a reader. (I know it has helped increase book sales at signing events!).

This is added reason to keep your story moving and to cut out the old purple prose. You want something that is easy to read, conveys a lot of information quickly, and is a joy for the listener to listen to and it should give you joy to read out too!

I practice reading through ahead of an event but I also do so when I think I’ve got a story, not yet published (note the optimistic use of the word yet there!), which I think would make a good one to read out. Best way I know of picking up on phrases which are a little clunky or where dialogue doesn’t quite so flow as well as I thought it did. Still, that is what the editing pen is for.

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Wow, doesn’t the year just speed by? Could be said to go in a flash!

I’ve sometimes used dates in my flash tales (see Losing Myself In Tripping the Flash Fantastic) and used a time period as a framework for my story. In this case I used a diary format but only covered so many entries for a certain period of time as that was where the action of the story took place. It was up to the upper end of the flash limit.

It was fun to do but I did have to select the amount of time I was going to use here. I did this by using selected entries over a time span of two years. Each entry followed on from each other and I left a lot to inference but that is one of the great strengths of flash. You can leave your readers to work things out and I know I love this when other writers do this for me (especially in crime fiction. I do want to have a crack at trying to work out who the murderer is).

It also made huge sense for there to be gaps in the diary entries given what my characters are revealing here but this was all carefully planned out.

So time can be a useful element in a story then but, as with life itself I guess, we have to decide how we’re going to use it best.

BB - Flash with a Dash for TTFF

Goodreads Author Blog – Identifying with Characters

Do you identify with characters? I always have had a soft spot for Hans Christen Andersen’s The Ugly Duckling (and have always loathed bullying of any kind so that feeds in to my sympathy for the character here).

I also like justice to be seen to be done so I am always rooting for the detective in crime fiction unless they are the baddie.

What you value will feed into the kind of characters you root for and I have an especial soft spot for the underdog. I’m on the lookout for seemingly undervalued characters in a story because I am watching for them to turn out to have a major role to play in that story later on – and most of the time I’d be right to do so.

The characters I dislike the most are ones almost inevitably where I don’t share their values (and most of the time rightly so there too!). I’ve still got to be able to understand why they take the view they do though I don’t have to agree with it. That helps me create my own characters – the ones I like and love – and yes I have created characters I really can’t stand! The challenge there is to get into their heads sufficiently well enough to see why they are the way they are.

Screenshot 2022-10-01 at 21-36-48 Identifying with Characters

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Looking Back

Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes. In what has been a historic week, I take the opportunity to look back, share a new story, and prepare to embrace the new season. It has taken an autumnal turn here!

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Facebook – General and – Chandler’s Ford Today

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

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

Looking Back

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Always a joy to talk or write about flash fiction

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May be an image of outdoors, castle and text

Fairytales with Bite – A New Beginning

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

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

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

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

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

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This World and Others – Continuity

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

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

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

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

Definite story ideas there!

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