New Year 2021 – Apprehension or Hope?

Image Credit:-

All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated.

Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.

Image of The Writer’s Diary taken by me, Allison Symes. Much appreciated Christmas present!

Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

It’s good to be back in business for Chandler’s Ford Today this week. It always feels a little odd when I don’t post there! My post this week is called New Year 2021 – Apprehension or Hope?

Well, folks, the post does what it says on the tin (readers of a certain vintage will remember the old Ronseal wood stainer adverts that had this as a slogan. Mind you, every time I hear Pachelbel’s Canon in D, I think of the old Wool advert from the 1970s but that does say more about my age than anything else!).

In my post, I discuss the coming 12 month and urge positivity (and I would so love to see a better balance between reporting news we need to know along with news that is more uplifting. I have found too much negativity saps the soul if you let it).

I also encourage building on the positive things. So a gentle start to my CFT writing for this year but that’s no bad thing. Am looking forward to bringing you some fascinating insights from other writers over the next few weeks. More nearer the time. Meanwhile I hope you enjoy this week’s post.

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Happy New Year everyone! Here’s hoping 2021 proves to be a better and happier year for as many of us as possible. And for those facing sad and difficult times that you have all the support you need. I don’t usually celebrate New Year. I almost certainly won’t stay up to see it in. I treasure my sleep more these days but will admit to not being sorry to see the back of 2020.

Writing wise, I hope to build on the good things that have happened this year. Am keeping what I can crossed that writing events such as conferences etc will be back on.

I chat about facing the New Year with apprehension or hope in my Chandler’s Ford Today post this week. Link up tomorrow and once again Happy New Year!

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Great to see a fab review come in for Mulling It Over. This is the Bridge House Publishing anthology for this year. My story, It Is Time, is in there (and if you like a chiller of a story, it is for you). I love reading anthologies as well as being in them as I’ve always enjoyed books which give a wide range of stories. They’re also great ways of trying out authors who are new to you. For writers, of course, they make a great way of building up a publication track record so win-win!

Many thanks for the great responses to my More Than Writers blog spot called Planning Ahead from yesterday (see previous round up post).  Even if you’re not normally a planner, doing some will help you achieve more. (If nothing else jotting down possible ideas can help you rule out what you don’t want to do and that can save you time later).

Massive puppy party over the local park today. Lady had a wonderful time with her best buddy, who is the most sweet tempered Ridgeback. Both went home absolutely shattered (but oh so happy). One good thing about the hard frost this morning? The mud had frozen over so at least I wasn’t squelching through everything!

Anyone for a quick chorus of “always look on the bright side of life”?!!

Screenshot_2020-12-30 Mulling It Over eBook Multiple, Hobbs-Wyatt, Debz, James, Gill Amazon co uk Kindle Store

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

I always find the 1st January to be a strange day, regardless of what day of the week it falls on. It never feels like a holiday. (And this year that feeling it isn’t really a “proper” holiday has increased thanks to the pandemic and the freezing fog. Mind, it has also not helped that the usual post-Christmas walks and family visits didn’t happen).

Have you made any writing plans yet? I’m continuing various things already “on the go”. I haven’t quite finished writing the first draft of my non-fiction project but am within sight of the finishing line so that’s good.

Below is a picture of my writing diary. Am putting this up now as this will be the neatest this book will ever look. My old one was beginning to look rather battered and tired (just like the year itself really!). I didn’t get to use any of the prompts from the last diary but hope to make amends for that this year. I’m sure there are plenty of prompts here I can use to generate flash fiction stories.

Onwards and upwards and forwards then. A New Year is always a time for hope. We really could do with a lot of that right now!

The Writer's Diary

Happy New Year, one and all. I was having a quick look through my flash collection indexes and have realised, while I do tell Christmas related stories, I haven’t written any about a new year. Hmm… if ever there was a time to put that right, I guess it is now, isn’t it?!

Watching the Clock by Allison Symes
I was having such a wonderful time I didn’t want it to end. Yes, I remembered what she’d said about being back home by midnight. But come on, midnight is no time to leave a party, is it?

So I stayed until the bells started to chime and then I did run. What would he think if he saw my shabby dress? I only wish I could have stopped the clock. If midnight never came, I could have continued dancing.

Still I made it home before they came back, full of gossip about who the beautiful stranger was. I couldn’t bear to hear it. I thought going to bed would stop that but no, they were full of it again the following day.

The only comfort I had was when the clock struck midnight this time, it only signalled the start of another day, another year. I wish I could believe it would be the beginning of something better but I have had years of disappointed hopes so I know not to dream any more. I won’t expect more from any new year, yet alone this one.

The dance though is something I will treasure all of my life. That I think is the fairy godmother’s real gift to me.

Hmm… what are they on about now? Something about the Prince marrying the girl whose foot will fit the glass slipper and every lady under 50 has to try the shoe on. I will have to work hard not to laugh when my step sisters try it on. Let’s just say their feet are anything but elegant and dainty.

Maybe this New Year will mean a New Start for me after all. I just have to wait then and keep the other slipper hidden. Wish me luck! It is time mine changed for the better.

Ends
Allison Symes – 31st December 2020

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Hope you enjoy what follows. I thought this would be a different way of getting across a universal truth for writers!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1f3YsXSdrBg

Fairytales with Bite – Wishes a Fairy Godmother Would Love to Grant but Can’t

You would have thought the upside of being a fairy godmother is being able to dole out the odd wish to yourself every now and again but there are rules against such things. For a start, the potential for abuse is obvious. So given the rules, what would fairy godmothers love to grant in the way of wishes that they are forbidden to do? My suggestions are:-

Always making the punishment at least twice as bad as the crime. Why forbidden? Because there would be the risk that fairy godmothers would outdo each other as to how hardline they could be (as nobody would want to be seen to be “soft”).

Also when they are bringing miscreants to book, fairy godmothers want said miscreants to survive to learn their lesson and be able to warn others.

Also the usual idea is to humiliate miscreants and you can do that without using more magical energy than is strictly necessary.

Magic drains the person using it so no fairy godmother is going to waste her powers when she doesn’t have to.

Making cats trainable. This was declared an impossibility millennia ago. No amount of magic is going to change this (which is one reason fairy godmothers have always suspected cats of being magical creatures in their own right, regardless of the connection with witches).

Banning all possibilities of mistranslating a spell. Sounds a good idea but, if granted, it would have meant Cinderella would not have had her glass slipper. That has now become iconic (despite being murder on the feet – though fairy godmothers would see suffering as part of life. The main point they want to make sure of is that they’re not the ones doing the suffering!).

Taking all calories out of chocolate, prosecco and the like. I know. Lovely thought isn’t it? The argument against is you wouldn’t appreciate these wonderful things without the calories. Besides the Tooth Fairy wouldn’t like it. Take out the calories and you’re almost certainly taking out the sugar. That puts her out of a job and she’s not having that.

This World and Others – Marking of the Seasons

How does your fictional world mark the passing of time? Is there such a thing as a year, yet alone a New Year celebration? (Not that there will be much of any of that for any of us this time thanks to the wretched Covid).
Do the seasons match up to what we know on Earth? Or does your fictional world have something unique we would never see here due to the geographical conditions you’ve set up?

Marking of the seasons is something that has been done for millennia and is closely tied to agriculture. You have to know when to sow seed and when to harvest the crops after all. You also need to know when everything is dormant (though there is plenty going on under the soil even in winter, we just don’t see it).

So is there agriculture in your fictional world and, if so, what form does it take? Is there a food based celebration when the crops are brought in? If not, how do your creations survive? What do they eat and how do they get that food?

Even in a hunting community, there should be some sense of seasons given your characters would need to know when they could hunt their food and when their “prey” needs to reproduce so there will be things to hunt the following year etc.

So time matters then. How do you reflect this in your writing?

 

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Twitter Corner

 

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O Tidings…

Image Credit:-

All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated.

Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.

Facebook – General and Chandler’s Ford Today

O Tidings is the title for my Chandler’s Ford Today post this week and of course it comes from one of the lines from the carol God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen. That carol always puts me in mind of Dickens, A Christmas Carol etc. It just “takes me back in time” to that period every time I hear it.

I look at how tidings and the way we receive them has changed so much but I also long for a better balance between bad and good news, especially in a year when the tidings have been unremittingly grim. (And then in the next news report talk almost inevitably goes to people’s mental health declining and is it any wonder? I think we do need some good news in amongst the bad. I know we can’t avoid the latter but balance I think is important).

On a more positive note, and doing my bit to provide some balance,I also share some Christmassy flash fiction and micro stories which I hope do put a smile on your face.

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Had a wonderful time at the Christmas Book Hub online party on Facebook last night. Many thanks to the organisers, #AnnaMariaShenton and #PatriciaMOsborne. It was great fun.

It was lovely to “see” familiar faces there and make new online friends.

It was also a joy today to send a signed copy of Tripping The Flash Fantastic to #FrancescaCapaldiBurgess who won from my post on the Hub yesterday. Hope you enjoy the book, Francesca!

I shared a Christmassy story, The Help, from TTFF and that went down well. I am delighted to share it again here. Hope you enjoy!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pxtiAzRVOes&t=4s

Looking forward to taking part in the Christmas Book Hub event on Facebook later tonight, hence this early post from yours truly. I’ll be sharing a story from Tripping The Flash Fantastic and am looking forward to following all of the lovely and entertaining posts that will make for such a fun event later on. Given all of the live events have been cancelled, events like this one do much to cheer writers and readers up alike so three cheers for that!

My CFT post this week will, appropriately enough, be called O Tidings. I’ll be talking about how tidings have been shared, a little on how much communication has changed over the last twenty years, although I think it is fair to say an angelic visitation would still come as something of a surprise to most people! I’ll also be sharing some Christmassy flash fiction and some micro stories as part of this post. (I define micro stories as one/two-liners).

No post from me the following Friday!!! (I hope to have something up in the run up to New Year but Christmas Day is one of the few days of the year where I won’t be writing at all. I hope to do plenty of “story intake” though via favourite Christmas films and reading my gifts from Santa later on in the day. Christmas, for me, would not be the same without at least one book-shaped present under the tree but that is hardly a surprise and it does mean I am easy to buy for!).

And remember the best thing you can do for the writers in your life is (a) buy their books and (b) review them in the usual places! I can’t think of any writer who’d turn down those gifts!

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Hope you have had a good week. I’ve created a new flash fiction story called The Fairy’s Viewpoint which will, shortly, be on my website (right here, this is the only issue with preparing a post for Facebook and then putting it in my round-up here – sometimes things like this happen!) at https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com

N.B.  The Fairy’s Viewpoint is further down under the Fairytales with Bite section. Hope you enjoy it!

Great fun to write though I don’t know what cat owners will make of it! I hope that has intrigued you enough to pop over to my site later on and have a look. You will find the story under my Fairytales with Bite section for tonight’s round-up of my posts and blogs.

Just so you know, I do a twice weekly round up on the Blog section of my website and it is effectively a twice weekly mini-magazine. Good fun to do and it means I keep my website and blog up to date with fresh material on a regular basis. (N.B. As you good people who follow me already know but this is very much my marketing exercise for today and I hope the initial post on Facebook will draw people to this very website! I can but try!).

Hope to share the link to the radio broadcast of Up to Scratch either later this weekend or early next week. Well now is the time for Christmas stories after all!

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It was great fun taking part in the Christmas Book Hub Facebook event last night. My story video, The Help, went down well which was lovely (flash fiction is perfect for story videos!), but my night was made by being a prize winner in one of the events. I’ve already received my copy of the ebook but a parcel of other goodies is on its way to me. And yes I am a big kid here. Who doesn’t like a parcel full of goodies? A big thanks to #KatrinaHart and I am looking forward to reading her Lost Town of Man’s Crossing over the Christmas break.

Next week will be a little different obviously. There will be no Chandler’s Ford Today post from me on the 25th (even I like a day off now and again!) and I will collate my usual twice-weekly blog and posts round up into one edition on Tuesday, 22nd December with the next one to be on the following Tuesday, 29th December (and that will be a bumper edition). After that it will be back to business as usual.

I am hoping to have the first draft of my big project written by the end of the year and while that is resting for a while, I will be working on a third flash collection. I must admit though I am itching to get back to author events though and hope that will be possible from the spring/summer onwards.

Meanwhile, I am looking forward to my story, Up to Scratch, being broadcast on Hannah’s Bookshelf on North Manchester FM (hosted by Hannah Kate) this coming Saturday, 19th December between 2 pm and 4 pm. I hope to share the link to the broadcast later this week/early next week. Is it going to be odd hearing my story read by someone else? Yes, but in a very good way and it is a great way to wind down my writing year.

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Flash fiction is useful for events such as the Christmas Book Hub Facebook event I’ll be taking part in later on today. It’s easy to record on a phone and videos don’t take long to upload as a result. A short story to hopefully entertain people is just the ticket. So even if you don’t write flash fiction as a regular thing but write it occasionally, bear in mind the idea of using it as a way of drawing people in to see what else you write.

I don’t always produce videos for these. I sometimes just put the text up in posts like this one as you know but I must admit that now being hooked on Book Brush, the temptation to create something for the story is too much to resist! (And it’s another way of sharing stories too as proven below!).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OHdm95OBhmg

Fairytales with Bite – The Fairy’s Viewpoint

I thought I’d share a flash tale in the run up to Christmas for Fairytales With Bite and I think my character in this has plenty of bite to her! Hope you enjoy.

The Fairy’s Viewpoint
It’s that time of year again, is it? I swear it was only five minutes ago you put me back in the box for another year. Oh look at the dust on this dress. I don’t suppose there’s any chance of a new outfit? I wouldn’t mind a nice green number, perhaps with some gold stars on it. Still festive and it’s bound to be warmer than this silly tutu.
Oh you’re just going to shove me on top of the Christmas tree again, are you?
I wish I could say I was surprised.
I wish I was allowed to grant my own wishes. I’d conjure up my own outfits! Have a new one for each Christmas. Not much for a girl to ask for, is it?
At least the view from up here is good and I am well away from your perishing cat. I’ve never liked the way it looks at me. Trust me, Puss, if I could conjure up a spell or two, you would be showing me more respect and you can stop hissing. I know you know I’m talking to you. Bad luck, your human owners won’t understand you. Even if they did, they wouldn’t believe you!
Hmm… I do believe the humans have splashed out on new Christmas lights this year. Not before time to be honest. The last set were ancient. I like the blue and white motif. Hmm… maybe not the green dress then. Maybe a blue and white dress to fit in.
Puss, if you come any nearer this tree, I will kick the baubles off and they will hit you on the head. I always had a good aim when I was at fairy school. You are not coming up here to “nab” me.
Oh good, the human mum has grabbed you and put you in your cat basket. I hope she keeps you there. Still at least they don’t leave you alone with me in here. I think they don’t trust you with the tree. I don’t trust you with me!
Right, time to put on a good show. I do have a little magic still. I know how to make my hair, eyes, and silly tutu shine. Yes, there I go. The little girl is clapping and saying she likes my pretty dress. Hmm… let’s see. I’ll close my eyes and wish hard. Yes, done it. There’s a new present tucked under the tree. The cat is hissing. Tough, Puss, you’re not wearing the dress. She will be. Okay the parents are going to try and work out who sent it and probably have a row over it but their little girl will be happy. And she’s okay, unlike you, wretched cat.
I suppose I’d better conjure something up for the boy. He’s not bad. He can have a Lego kit. He likes the stuff and has got a knack with it. And his parents can row over that too… unless.
The fairy smiled despite feeling more tired in years. It has been a long time since I performed so much magic but this family have had a tough year and if ever there was the time to bring them some cheer, this year is it.
Under the tree now, were two bottle shaped presents. The parents will appreciate that at the end of Christmas Day, I’m sure.
The fairy peered into the cat basket. Oh all right, Puss. One more wish. And don’t wreck the toy mouse all at once. It would be nice if it could see Boxing Day.
The fairy chuckled quietly. There was no chance of that wish coming true… none whatsoever.

Allison Symes – 17th December 2020

Hope you enjoyed that! It was great fun to write. And if you’d like to explore of my flash fiction, please check out both of my flash collections at:-

http://mybook.to/FromLightDarkBackAgai
http://mybook.to/TrippingFlashFantastic

BookBrushImage-2020-11-14-19-1939BB - blue poster for books

This World and Others – Music

What role does music play in your fictional world? I can’t imagine a world without some kind of music. Nor do I wish to! Along with the gift of literacy, I think music is one of the most important things we have as a species. And I write listening to classical music. It relaxes me and I write better (and more) when I’m in that state!

So in your fictional work, which kinds of music do your characters enjoy listening to or is music saved for the elite? What instruments exist? Are there choirs? Is singing encouraged or frowned on? (I like the idea of underground choirs – those who defy the rules to sing though they would have to keep the volume down!).

I’ve been singing along to the carols on Classic FM and glad to do so. I always enjoy this but never more than this year when singing is restricted at best. (As I write this in December 2020, I still can’t sing in church though I can listen to live music).

And if singing and music is “normal” in your fictional world, what could take it away from your characters? I personally can’t write about the pandemic much, I want to escape with my stories and blogs. There is likely to be a spate of pandemic stories so I think it would be useful to come up with something different which takes music and things like that away from your fictional people.

Spider diagrams can be useful when roughing out ideas. You can then follow the thread of the most promising line of thought. Incidentally if music is taken away in your creation, it won’t be the only thing removed. And whoever or whatever does the removing should have good reasons for doing so.

 

Continuing Professional Development

Image Credit:-

All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated.

Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.

Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

Delighted to share my post on Continuing Professional Development for Chandler’s Ford Today this week. Mind you, I could easily have called this post Continuing Personal Development as I think it benefits writers, every so often, to assess where they are and where they would like to be, say in a year’s time.

It is an oddity that even in this technological age, if you write down something, you are more likely to do something to try to achieve that same something. I sometimes brainstorm not just ideas for stories but ideas for writing (competitions etc) I’d like to try at some point.

Inevitably I get around to some but not others but I still achieve more than if I had not written my thoughts down. So yes there is still plenty of room in a writer’s life for the good old notebook and pen!

CPD also means getting to grips with the social media platforms that best suit you and engaging, not just with potential readers, but with other writers. There is nobody but nobody like a fellow writer to understand the ups and downs of the creative life, as I mentioned yesterday. And the best way to meet and make writing pals especially at the moment is online.

So you seek to develop writing friendships, you aim to be as creative as possible within your chosen sphere, and every so often, be brave and step out of it. After all it is how I discovered flash fiction. Have fun exploring other forms of writing.

Writing should be fun (for most of the time). You want to build on what has gone before and if you can look back at your work over a year and see where you’ve done that, well done. I hope this particular post proves to be an encouraging one! (Encouragement is always welcome and never more so than this year I think).

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The creative life has its ups and downs and it takes time to work out how best to handle this. But I’ve found small steps lead to more small steps and, given time, you can look back and see how far you’ve come. It will be further than you expect.

The Plus Side

  • Obviously having work accepted. Cherish the moment. You’ve worked for this. Add your work to your writing CV.
  • Receiving likes etc on Facebook posts you’ve written. Cherish those too. It shows people are engaging with what you write (and that is so lovely).
  • Receiving good reviews for your work. Cherish those as well. (And if there is a book you’ve loved, do the writer a favour and leave a review. They do help and it makes sense to support the industry you want to be in/are part of).
  • Getting something done you’ve not tackled before. This can be anything from having your own website/blog/both and posting to it regularly or trying a new form of writing and having fun with it. This stretches your creativity and you’ll be achieving more, even if that achievement is discovering you’re not cut out to be a playwright after all but flash fiction is more your forte.

Cherishing positive times like this matters. It makes you feel good (and so it should. You’ve worked hard to get to this point).

The Down Side

  • Rejections. They suck. They always will. Having sympathetic writer buddies helps a lot here. We can be shoulders to cry on (and maybe in time you will be that shoulder for someone else. What goes around comes around is a true saying and it happens in writing too).
  • Not hearing. I think this is worse than receiving a rejection because at least with that, you know. The one comfort is this happens to everybody. One way around it is to have work on the go, work “out there”, and work to edit so you know you’ve always got something to do. I’ve found keeping busy writing wise helps a lot here. If I don’t hear from Publication X after a certain time, I assume it’s a no and submit work elsewhere.
  • Not receiving responses to your social media posts. This doesn’t mean you necessarily want to hear from readers all the time but if there is a long period of silence, it can be disheartening. So if there is a post you like, do let the writer know. We like to know you are out there enjoying what we’ve written.

It has helped me a lot to know other writers feel this too. It’s important to know you’re not alone so if you’ve not done so, build up a good writing buddy support network. You need people to celebrate with and sometimes whinge with and they will be glad of your support when they want to celebrate or whinge!

Cafelit books - Book Brush mock up

CafelLit is a wonderful online writing community and very supportive. Image created by Allison Symes using Book Brush.

Book Brush - Cafelit 9, Mulling It Over, Transformations

Appearing in anthologies is another way of supporting other writers as well as yourself. You all want tthe books to do well! Image created by Allison Symes using Book Brush

person holding white ceramic mug

Photo by Diva Plavalaguna on Pexels.comThe support given by other writers online has been a real boost to everyone this year. Keep it up, folks!

My CFT post this week will be on Continuing Professional Development and how this can apply to writers. I share something of how I’ve developed here and look ahead to how I hope I will continue to improve on what I do. This applies to the writing itself and to the marketing of it.

One positive thing about writing is that it should stretch you in terms of coming up with new ideas for new stories, stretch you in terms of what you learn from writing conferences and the like, and in working out the best way for you to come to terms with social media. And it is a question of coming to terms with it!

All writers have to find ways to market what they do (and to a certain extent themselves as well) and it is vital that, whichever route you take here, you enjoy it. That is important. Readers will pick up on whether a writer is writing to entertain a potential readership or whether they’re doing this because they feel they have to do it.

Also, enjoying what you do social media wise means you are far more likely to keep it going. That is important too. Readers like consistency (as do publishers and agents). Link up on Friday.

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Just sometimes I work on a flash fiction story and I realise it’s going to be longer than I expected. I’m working on one such at the moment. Do I worry? No. If it ends up being a standard length short story (1500 words or so), then that’s fine. I’ll leave it at that and find a different market/competition to send it to and then work on another piece of flash fiction.

Little is wasted in writing. It’s absolutely fine to take say a section of a story that didn’t quite work out for some reason and use it in another. And also I take the view that I will learn from what made this story not quite work out. How can I avoid that happening again?

For a story that is taking more room than expected, I need to accept the characters need the room and let them have that space. I very rarely throw work out. In all the years I’ve been writing, I’ve only done this a couple of times and that was because I hadn’t outlined properly and wrote myself into a metaphorical brick wall. Still I’ve learned from that. I always outline characters now to make sure I DO know them as well as I think I do.

I love using first person in flash fiction because I can take you the reader straight into the character’s thoughts, mindset, attitudes etc. That can be fun or horrific, depending on how I’ve portrayed the character!

The advantage of the third person is, I think, I can focus more on the character’s actions (and often you will pick up on likely attitudes to life and others from the way they act. Sometimes from the way they don’t act too!).

But as ever, and regardless of which option you go for here, you do need to know your character pretty well to write their story. So again a plug for the advantages of outlining your characters first!

How do you end your stories? Do you find the endings easy to write or do you struggle?

For me, so much depends on how I’ve written the story. If I know what the ending is first, I will write that closing line down and then work backwards to get to the beginning.

When I write stories the “right” way around, because I outline my characters before I start a tale, I usually have an idea of where said characters are likely to end up and that gives me the story ending. Where I have a choice of how the character could end up, I jot down both versions and then go with the one I think has the strongest impact on me (and therefore is likely to do the same for a reader).

Whichever way I do this, I’m looking for an ending that’s appropriate to what’s gone before and has a good impact on the reader. Impact is everything. Your ending has to wrap up the story of course, but you want to leave your reader having really enjoyed your story and with an ending that they feel couldn’t be anything else.

Yes it pays to write down different options here. Spider diagrams can be useful for working out different options. But I have found doing initial outlining saves a great deal of time later on.

Sometimes a stronger idea for an ending will come to me as I’m writing the first draft. I note it down and then look at it later in “the cold light of day”. Sometimes an idea that occurs like this seems brilliant at the time but in a day or two’s time… well, if it still seems brilliant, then go for it! But do look at it honestly. Does it have the impact you want for this story? Does it suit the character?

Fairytales With Bite – What Happens When The Sparkle Has Gone?

Well, what does happen when a fairy godmother hangs up her wand? Not everyone wants to leave their respective worlds permanently with their “shiny shoes” on after all. My thoughts on this are:-

  • She takes up gardening but refuses point blank to have anything to do with pumpkins.
  • She has a pet but will not have mice, rats, anything she might once have enchanted. She really does not want her past coming back to haunt her in her own home. Oh and cats are out too. Those are strictly for the witch fraternity.
  • She works on her cooking on the grounds she needs to eat and it makes a nice change to brew up something that is not going to be used on anyone else for magical purposes.
  • She collects nice shoes. No glass ones obviously. This fairy godmother wants comfort. And it is nice to put some business the shoe shops’ way rather than creating things magically. (Especially since she had not meant to conjure up glass slippers at all. She still doesn’t know what went wrong with that spell but is grateful Cinderella did not get splinters. Bleeding feet is never a good look).
  • She collects a wide variety of hats. She was not sorry to ditch the “upside down icecream cone” look which formed part of her fairy godmother uniform.
  • She reads widely, especially books from other worlds. She avoids spell books, fairytales (she knows how they end), and anything which might have any connection to her working life.
  • She makes sure she is not cheated on her pension. The one thing that might make her dig out her wand would be if she thought anyone was cheating her here. No strongly worded letter for this girl. Anyone attempting to cheat her here would find their life expectancy cut short or turned into a species with a huge number of predators. Fairy godmothers know how to get even.

Mind you, the chances of a fairy godmother getting to have a retirement in peace is remote. Someone would be bound to call her out in times of emergency. Her biggest problem would be in trying to resist that urge.

This World and Others – Celebrations

I know! 2020 the year for celebrations? Point taken and possibly not (though I hope Christmas proves to be a useful and cheer people up break, whether they share my Christian faith or not).

But in terms of creating your own fictional worlds, are celebrations a part of what your characters would know? If not, why not? Are celebrations of any kind banned or are only government sanctioned ones permitted? What are these? What happens to anyone refusing to take part or holding their own celebratory events?

What is the history behind the celebrations your characters know? Would we recognise any of the elements of these things? Food and drink are an important part of things like these so what would your characters enjoy? What would be the common items? What would be the luxuries?

And are any members of the community excluded from celebrations for any reason? Are birthdays acknowledged?

Now your story is unlikely to about these things directly, but details like this can add depth to your created world. We see in The Lord of the Rings celebrations for Bilbo Baggins’ 111th birthday and have enough details to be able to picture it, yet it is not the whole story or even the major bit of it. (It makes a great starting point though. Could you use your own world’s events to draw readers in and get the story off to a cracking start?).

Also you can contrast celebratory moods with what happens to the characters afterwards when they go off on their quest or have to contend with other threats to them.

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Bridge House Celebration, ALCS, and the What If question

Image Credit:-

All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated.

Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Image of me with wild hair and Tripping The Flash Fantastic taken by Adrian Symes.

Facebook – General

Great to see Amazon have updated my Author Central page quickly so Mulling It Over and Transformations are now both on there.  (Lovely to see a good collection building up here!). And that has reminded me to add these books to ALCS too. What is ALCS?

As I’m a member of the Society of Authors, I have free membership to ALCS (the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society). ALCS collects money from copyright licences etc and distributes said monies to authors. There is no way any one writer could possibly keep tabs on X making photocopies of their work here, Y doing it there and so on.

If you’re not a member of the Society of Authors, you can still join ALCS. It costs £36.00 and this is lifetime membership, not per year. See https://www.alcs.co.uk/how-to-join for more.

I had my first modest pay-out from ALCS back in March and most welcome it was too. Do check out their website for more information. The main thing to remember is to update your details when you have new works out. And this includes, for me, not just my two flash fiction collections, but all of the paperback anthologies I have been in and continue to have work appear in.

(The reasons for the emphasis on paperback is ALCS need you to tell them the ISBN number and ebooks don’t have that. They have an ASIN which ALCS do not work with but given most anthologies come out in ebook and paperback, you can at least register the latter!).

Very well worth doing. (And another little task ticked off my writing admin list today!).

Even colder than yesterday here in Hampshire though Lady did get to have a fab time with her busy buddy, a lovely Rhodesian Ridgeback today. No chance of them getting cold with all that running around.

I’m going to be having a look at Continuing Professional Development and how it can apply to writers in my Chandler’s Ford Today post this week. Have also put in my book order for copies of Mulling It Over and Transformations and have also asked Amazon to add these two to my Author Central page in due course. Hopefully they’ll appear on there later this week. I’ve usually found Amazon answer such requests quickly.

It is nice to see a good collection of books appearing on my page now. This is not something I anticipated when starting out but it does show the value, I think, of persistence, keeping going, and learning over time to get better at targeting my work to the appropriate market. And yes, it does take time. But this is true for everybody and I found that quite encouraging when I was starting out. It is good to know it is not just you!

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Brrr… so cold today. Even Lady wasn’t sorry to get in from her evening walk. Enjoyed watching The Polar Express tonight. One of my favourite Christmas films along with A Muppet Christmas Carol. Better half put the decorations up yesterday so the old homestead is looking festive. Am very thankful Lady leaves the tree alone.

Making good progress on my non-fiction project. Am on track to finish the first draft by the end of the year. Whenever I write anything, I always feel a certain relief on getting that first draft down. I love the creative side but I also enjoy the editing and getting the work into good shape ready for submitting somewhere. I swear I can almost feel the draft getting better as I take out my usual wasted words and sharpen up what remains. I like that feeling.

I’ve also got a third flash collection on the go. I plan to resume work on that once I’ve got the first draft of the non-fiction project done as I know I’ll need to rest that for a while so I can look at it with fresh eyes when I get back to it.

Writing is the gift that keeps on giving in many ways.

Firstly, boredom is a thing of the past as I’ve always got something to work on!

Secondly, writing stretches me. I want to keep trying to get better at what I do.

Thirdly, to write well you need to read well so you get two activities in one here. But best of all?

Making friends thanks to a shared love of writing!

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It was great seeing everyone at the Bridge House Publishing celebration event this afternoon. It was lovely to see friends and meet new people and the turnout was wonderful. There was plenty to celebrate too, despite the obvious problems affecting everyone this year.

There were plenty of new books out via Bridge House, including the recently released Mulling It Over and Transformations. Plus there were new single author collections out too, including my own Tripping The Flash Fantastic.

There was a cryptic clue quiz. I was hopeless at it but I always am at cryptic clues. It was something of a relief that I did get my book title in amongst the mix, plus the two I’ve had the pleasure and privilege of editing for Bridge House this year. (And that really was about my lot!).

There was lovely mix of stories read too and I read Progressing. This was my first winning story for the Waterloo Arts Festival Writing Competition (and is in the new Transformations book too).

All great fun and we are all looking forward to next year’s events! Pics for this one are the Cafelit (BB) mock up, the tunnel one, my anthologies one, and the phone one plus the “sky” one for FLTDBA and TTFF.

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Delighted to share my latest story video on Youtube. This is one of my acrostic flash tales called Autumn. Let’s just say the video is apt for the tale and that no spades were harmed in the making of this story! Hope you enjoy.

 

As well as my own flash collections, I often contribute flash pieces to CafeLit. My Humourless in The Best of CafeLit 9 is one of my most recent and is on the darker side for me. The idea for this piece came to me when I asked one of my favourite writing questions – the old classic “what if”? What if someone had lost their sense of humour due to their job? What could that job be?

Finding a starting point for your stories is crucial and asking the “what if” question is an invaluable place to begin because it should trigger other questions and you will find yourself wanting to know what the answers are. If you can be hooked into finding out the answers, then hopefully a reader will be too.

Other useful starting points include using Kipling’s famous serving men – What, Where, How, Why, When, and Who? Anything that makes you ask questions to find out more about the character and what they’re facing is going to help you plot out the story in more depth.

The tricky bit is in working out what the most relevant points are and focusing only on those. This is why I find flash’s restricted word count useful. It makes me focus and that’s no bad thing.

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It was especially nice to talk to a fellow flash fiction writer, Dawn Knox, for Chandler’s Ford Today last week. Always good to advertise the form and to show what can be done with it.

Flash is a great vehicle for character studies. I find those work best when kept short (as is the case with monologues) and flash fiction is ideal – a match made in writing heaven perhaps.

When I’ve drafted a flash story I ask myself certain questions about it.

  • Does the story make the impact I thought it would before I wrote it?
  • How does the character make me react/feel? (No reaction = character not strong enough = no story).
  • Have I marked up my usual suspects of wasted words ready to take out for the second draft?
  • What phrases have I used that could be fine tuned into creating stronger images for the reader?

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Delighted to see another review come in for Tripping The Flash Fantastic. Many thanks! Reviews really do help authors. Neither do reviews have to be lengthy. I use reviews myself when checking out potential books to read or when I’m wondering whether to try a new grocery product!

Had a fab time at the Bridge House Publishing event this afternoon. It is one of the highlights of my writing year. It was great to see a good turnout too. I did miss the actual getting together (and the splendid authors’ lunch that precedes it!) but I am sure we will make up for that next year!

But the biggest thing about Zoom is making events accessible and it was wonderful to see some of Bridge House’s more far flung authors able to take part in today’s event. When the nightmare of Covid is over, I want to see Zoom continuing. It has been one of the more positive things about this whole year.

Screenshot_2020-12-05 Amazon co uk Customer reviews Tripping the Flash Fantastic

 

Goodreads Author Blog – New For Old?

New for old is a catchphrase from Aladdin of course but is this something that is appropriate for book lovers?

After all I love old books. I love new books. I just love books!

I think it is good to have a balance of old favourites. These are my comfort reads when I need that.

I also like to read new books, especially from contemporary writers. It is good to know what is being put out there now.

One handy side benefit to making writer friends is this does help ensure you do get plenty of contemporary reading in. I take great pleasure from the fact I have shelves which are packed full of fab books written by people I’ve come to know and count as friends. I always look forward to adding to my shelves in that regard. I can’t wait to get back to book events so I can pick up those books signed by said friends in person.

Naturally I’m looking forward to being able to hold some book events of my own in due course.

So have I got books on my Christmas list?

What do you think?!

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Twitter Corner

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More From Dawn Knox – Flash Fiction, Writing Routines, Career Highlights

Image Credit:-

All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.

Images of Dawn Knox, the photos of the stage productions of her plays, and her book covers were kindly supplied by her.

Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

Delighted to share Part 2 of a fascinating interview with Dawn Knox for Chandler’s Ford Today. Dawn is a fellow CafeLit and Bridge House Publishing author and has written wonderful flash fiction (see her The Great War – it is a great example of what flash fiction can do and be) and fabulous funny stories. Her latest collection, The Macaroon Chronicles, is out now.

We talk about what drew Dawn into writing flash fiction, her links with her local radio station, writing routines, how she balances writing with marketing, and what she thinks is the most fulfilling aspect of her career to date amongst other interesting topics.

Dawn and I took part in a Zoom event back in September which was great fun and we are both looking forward to the Bridge House Publishing celebration event tomorrow, 5th December. Hope to see you there! Where would we be without Zoom now?!

A huge thanks to Dawn Kentish Knox​ for taking part in a fabulous two part interview with me for Chandler’s Ford Today. I look forward to catching up with her and other Bridge House writers at the BHP celebration event tomorrow! We would prefer to meet in person but right now this is not possible and Zoom is the next best thing!

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Nice to be able to resume swimming today. Did my usual number of lengths but let’s say I won’t be setting any world records here… Not that I intended to do so anyway so that’s okay.

Looking forward to sharing Part 2 of a wonderful chat with Dawn Knox on Chandler’s Ford Today tomorrow.
Saturday will be busy with the Bridge House event in the afternoon and directly after that I’m off to my church in Romsey to record a Bible reading for a service that is being recorded to be shown via Zoom nearer to Christmas Day.

I am going to miss the traditional carol services though I have had a couple of invites to Zoom ones so I will try and tune in to at least one of those. I do enjoy a good sing. Whether anyone else does is another matter!

It’s strange sometimes the memories that come up on Facebook. Earlier this morning they put up a picture of me reading from From Light to Dark and Back Again at a Bridge House event held in a pub (and yes a very good time was had by all!). I’ll be reading on Zoom on Saturday for this year’s BHP event where I plan to read from one of my winning stories from the Waterloo Arts Festival.

Now the event is free to go to but you do need to register. Hope to see you there. There will be readings and giveaways. It will make a great way to spend a cold December afternoon! (See images below for some of the books we will be celebrating!).

Book Brush - Cafelit 9, Mulling It Over, Transformations

black and red typewriter

Other Ways of Being

Gill James’s latest book as at July 2020.

Days Pass like a Shadow Large

An intriguing short story collection from Paula Readman

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Facebook Memory

From three years ago – where has the time gone? I was reading from newly released From Light to Dark and Back Again at a Bridge House Publishing event. This year? I’ll be reading again at a BHP event but on Saturday via Zoom! Annoyingly, I can’t find the original picture but one thing that has developed over the last year or two has been a love of reading flash fiction out at events like the BHP ones and I hope to do more of this. Flash works very well as a “performance” read.

Allison Symes - Published Works

Yours truly and some of my collected works! Image by Adrian Symes

Great to see a review come in for The Best of Cafelit 9. If you are after an anthology which has a real mix of stories and writing styles, do check the Cafelit books out. I often use collections and anthologies as my go to for reading between novels. I don’t always know what I want to read after finishing a novel so switch to short stories and flash fiction collections for a while before deciding what my next big read will be.

CafeLit9Medium

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

I’ve mentioned before that I sometimes write a flash fiction story “backwards” in that the first line I write is what will be the final one in the story. I then work out different ways I could get to that point and pick the one I think works best.

I sometimes use spider diagrams to help me work out what would be the one to work best. Usually it is a case of if one idea triggers a lot of other thoughts then that is a good indication there is strength in that idea.

If an idea only triggers the odd thought to come off from it, then I’ve got to ask am I likely to run out of steam if I go that route (and the answer to that is inevitably yes. I’ve only ever abandoned two stories in all the years I’ve been writing and in both cases I had not thought them out properly and did indeed run out of said steam for them! So if you’ve wondered why I’m such a fan of ensuring I know my characters well enough to write about them properly, now you know!).

One of my stories in Tripping The Flash Fantastic is called The Wish List. With your reader’s and/or writer’s hat on what would you wish for? You can have three wishes for a reader’s requirements and three for a writer’s one. My answers below.

Writer’s Hat

I wish to never run out of ideas.

I wish to never run out of energy to write them up.

I wish to always love every aspect of the writing process.

Nice thing with this is the last one isn’t usually a problem but we all get days when we’re tired, have too much to do in too little time, and so some of the enjoyment of writing can lag. What you want there is for that feeling to never last long!

Reader’s Hat

I wish to always know what I’m going to read next. (Lack of wonderful material isn’t the issue here. It is prioritising!)

I wish to learn something useful to my own writing from everything I read. (Often do and generally positively. Occasionally I come across a story that didn’t work for me but even there I learn something. I look at why it didn’t work for me).

I wish that everyone had full literacy skills and access to good libraries. (Possibly sneaking in an extra wish there but it is an understandable one so maybe the Book Fairy Godmother will let me off that!).

I was having a chat over on Twitter at #writingchat about where writing has taken you. I’ve mentioned before that I didn’t start out as a flash fiction writer. That came about as a result of writing short stories for CafeLit and then taking up their 100 word challenge. I’m not sorry for that particular writing detour!

And it is why I do say be open to trying new styles of writing. You may well hit upon something you really love as I have. It’s also fun to experiment with your writing like this. If you decide you don’t like it, fine, but if you do… well it’s another string to the old writing bow, isn’t it?

Three top tips for flash fiction writing:-

1. Outline your character so you know who you are writing about and why you want to write about them.

2. Get the story down first and worry about the word count later. If a tale works better at 500 words then 100, leave it at 500.

3. Reading your work out loud is a great idea as it helps you pick up on the “rhythm” of your prose. If you stumble over it, a reader is likely to do so too. The great thing with flash is that this is so easy to do. You’re only reading out a short piece of work!

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Fairytales With Bite – Codes

What codes do you think should exist in a magical environment? I offer up the following ideas for a Code of Conduct for a Magical World.

  • No drawing of wands in an enclosed space. Do you want to make the whole building go up or become a giant white mouse or something?
  • Those with the ability to fly, whether it be by wings or broomsticks or other magical object, will observe the speed limits or risk being enchanted by the Magical Traffic Police. And their spells have been known to go horribly wrong. Yes, traffic enforcers do get everywhere.
  • Those with the highest magical powers will not bully the ones who are still learning the craft. That may have been considered a fine tradition once upon a time but times have changed. Also the underdog in the fairytales has a consistent habit of having their fortunes turned around thanks to a friendly fairy godmother. Do you really want them coming after you for revenge on what you did to them all those years previously? Best be cautious here.

Hope you enjoyed those. But if you are planning out a magical world for your stories, it does pay to work out who can do what. If everyone has the same magical powers, they’re going to cancel each other out. So how do the different magical species live in harmony with another? So some sort of agreement/code is going to be necessary after all!

This World and Others – Differences

Does your fictional world celebrate the differences between cultures, species etc? Or is there a dominant culture/species that seeks to dominate the others? How do the others react to that?

Even when there is no hostility between species, what are the differences between your characters? Do they get along well or irritate the hell out of each other?

How do differences in character/how characters handle situations play out in your stories? You are looking for what drives your characters to act the way they are but they will have their reasons for their behaviour.

Are these good reasons? Do the characters need to change their outlook?

What differences do other characters bring to your leads and are these for good or ill?

Above all, what difference is there in your main characters at the end of the story as opposed to when the story starts? There should be pivotal change. That is the story!

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Brechin/Angus Book Festival – 21st and 22nd November 2020

Image Credit:-

All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated.

Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.

Top Tips image created on Book Brush (who use Pixabay images – I’ve recognised quite a few!).

Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

Delighted to share my latest CFT post – Brechin/Angus Book Festival – Local Author News – Allison Symes. Not perhaps the snappiest of titles I’ve ever come up with but it does do what it says on the tin, to quote the old Ronseal advert!

Very pleased to be in such distinguished company too and given book festivals celebrate stories and books, what is there not to like about that?

Pleased to say I’m “on” for the Sunday from 1.35 for about 20 minutes or so.

Hopefully “see” you there!

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Given I can’t go swimming at the moment, raking up leaves from my oak trees is proving to be a good replacement workout! Lady would love to be out “helping me” but we live on a main road so that’s not possible.

There are advantages to living on a main road by the way. Nobody but nobody parks in front of my house. Even delivery drivers never stop long….

True story: years ago, we were unfortunate enough to be burgled. We were lucky. We got our things back (my engagement ring, things like that) because they caught the thief red-handed literally further down the road from me.

A police officer came to see us after all was sorted out just to make sure we were okay and parked his marked car outside our drive. He and I were chatting when we heard this enormous bang.

Yes! Someone had driven round the corner and somehow had not seen a marked police car and went smack into it.

Would’ve loved to have seen the insurance claim on that one!

Writing wise, I’m looking forward to sharing my CFT post tomorrow about the Brechin/Angus Book Fest. Naturally I’m looking forward to taking part in that over the weekend.

I also hope to have further publication news in the not too distant future.

Favourite thing to write ever? For me it’s those magic words “the end” after I’ve got the first draft down. I then know I’ve got something to work with and that always comes as something of a relief even now after many years of writing.

Oh and a huge thanks for all the views on my Last Request story on Youtube. And a big welcome to all of my subscribers too!😊


How has your Wednesday been? Good I trust.

What made you start writing? I’d always loved stories and loved composition lessons in English where we had to write tales to whatever theme the teacher said. And there my writing remained.

I had in the back of my mind that it might be a nice thing to do one day but I didn’t write seriously until two major landmark events in my life made me realise if I was going to get any writing done, I ought to get on and do some.
My only regret in writing has been not starting sooner.

It takes you longer than you realise to find your voice and discover what form of writing suits you best and this is an ongoing process. As you know, I hadn’t started out by writing flash fiction but that is where I’m published.

What I would advise anyone who is thinking of writing is to go for it.
At best you will discover something that entrances you, keeps your mind active, encourages the development of your imagination, and hopefully you’ll end up published too.

At worst, you’ll discover it’s not for you or that you will only write occasionally for your own pleasure and that’s fine too.

It is important to love writing. It is what helps keep you going when the rejections hit the fan.

Okay, you’re not going to love all of it all of the time but, as long as most of the time, you can’t imagine your life without writing, then you’re on a good path!

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Looking forward to waving the flag for flash fiction at the Brechin/Angus Book Festival over the weekend. I am “on” during Sunday from about 1.35 pm for 20 minutes or so.

See my CFT post at https://chandlersfordtoday.co.uk/brechin-angus-book-festival-local-author-news-allison-symes/ for more details. There is a direct link to the event as part of my post (as well as the first link given above).

Delighted to see that my Last Request very short flash story on Youtube has attracted almost 300 views. A big thank you, everyone. I plan to do more of these. They’re great fun to do and I hope make for an entertaining advert for my writing.

I don’t know about you but I never mind adverts that amuse or entertain me. I can think of several from years ago that I can remember now precisely because they were entertaining and/or amusing.

Flash fiction is, by its nature, ideal for this kind of thing!

Favourite tips for writing flash fiction and which have never let me down:-

  1. Focus on the character. It is their story. What matters to them? What is the problem they’ve got to overcome? What gets in their way? What helps them?
  2. Just get the story down and edit afterwards. My first edit starts by taking my wasted words out – very, actually, and that. I don’t worry that I seem to just write them in the first draft. I know they’re coming out and that bit can wait until I’m ready. What matters initially is just getting that story nailed down.
  3. When you think you’ve edited the story enough (note I say think!), read it out loud. This is easier to do with flash fiction writing I must say but I will pick up on wording I could phrase better when doing this. It is worth doing.

Happy writing!

BookBrushImage-2020-11-18-21-3548


A flash fiction story shines an intense light on one particular moment of change for a character. In a longer short story, that point could well be the start of the story and the tale would be long enough to show other moments of change happening (catalysts happen!).

What that moment of change is depends on the character to an extent. A feisty character is going to take major change more in their stride than someone who isn’t and therefore for the latter that change is more dramatic.

Ultimately, for me, any story is about how the character handles the situation they find themselves in. If your character, say, shows great courage, there should be some inkling that they are capable of it earlier in the story. In flash fiction, that inkling will be the odd seemingly throw away line which, on a second read of the story, proves to be pivotal.

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Fairytales With Bite – Be Wary!

If you’re a resident of a magical world, what should you be wary of? Plenty!

The little old lady/gent who looks harmless. Note I said looks there! They’re usually a witch or wizard in disguise and are anything but harmless.

Dragons, vampires, monsters of all kinds turning up. You live in a magical world. You get used to it.

Being unkind to the youngest son or daughter or a stepdaughter in particular. Things usually dramatically improve for them. Your fortunes on the other hand will sink completely the moment theirs shows any signs of that improvement.

Spells going wrong. Trick here is not to get in the way of any apprentices to wizards (who are usually looking to get out of doing cleaning the boring manual way) or trainee fairies. They are bound to make mistakes. You just don’t want to be on the receiving end.

Animals. Some of them talk. Some of them weren’t animals to begin with. If you’re invited to kiss a frog by said frog, think about what you might be letting yourself in for (it’s not giving birth to tadpoles by the way).

Any notices that invite you to “eat me” or “drink me”. Any truly good food and drink has no need to advertise itself in that way. Any food and drink that does… well there has to be a catch and you don’t want to be the one caught out by them.

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This World and Others – Settings Used as Characters

Yes, it is possible to use a setting as a character. Think about Wuthering Heights. The moors there play a pivotal role as does The Cobb in Lyme Regis in Jane Austen’s Persuasion.

So how can you use a setting as a character?

It has to be distinctive. The story can’t happen anywhere else. It has to happen in the setting you’ve created.

It can be a threat to your characters. Think The Lord of the Rings or Narnia. Mordor and Narnia where it is always winter but never Christmas are not exactly fun places to be!

It has a mood of its own. Think moors and you generally think of damp, foggy places where people can easily get lost or injure themselves. Can the weather change quickly? Do you have to be a local to understand the mood of the setting and avoid its traps? Also can the setting in and of itself affect the mood of your characters?

It has to have some sort of input to the conclusion of your story. You can’t have The Lord of the Rings without Mordor being faced up to at some point.
What makes your setting unique? Why have you chosen it? What aspects do you want to bring into your story?

Plenty to think about there but, just as I outline a character, I think it pays to outline your setting too. Work out how you will use it to add depth to your story. Ask yourself what you want your readers to “see” and “feel” as they read your story and absorb the setting you’ve put it in.

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Twitter Corner

Looking forward to sharing this post tomorrow. I’ll be talking about the Brechin/Angus Book Fest which I’m taking part in over the weekend. pic.twitter.com/bJMGojgwlQ— Allison Symes (@AllisonSymes1) November 19, 2020

Brechin/Angus Book Festival – Local Author News – Allison Symes https://t.co/gXqFRomCag Delighted to share my CFT post. Not the snappiest of titles I’ve ever invented but it does do what it says on the tin! I’m “on” for the Sunday from 1.35 for about 20 minutes. “See” you there! pic.twitter.com/1usdNYZNwZ— Allison Symes (@AllisonSymes1) November 20, 2020

Board and Card Games and a Trip Down Memory Lane

Image Credit: All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated.

Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Images of me signing copies of Tripping the Flash Fantastic taken by Adrian Symes.

 

Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

It’s time for a trip down Memory Lane with my Chandler’s Ford Today post this week.

I look at board and card games. Which were your favourites? Were there any you loathed? I share a few thoughts on why I think playing games like this are good for you and not just at Christmas and holiday time.

No surprises here when I say I’ve always been fond of the word games! But I have added to my vocabulary since playing Scrabble and games like it and for a writer, when is that ever a bad thing? Now I just need to find a way of working the word “Xi” into a story of mine!!

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Thrilled at another wonderful review for Tripping The Flash Fantastic. Many thanks to all who have reviewed so far.

I know it means so much to writers to have feedback like this and it helps more than might at first appear. So if you’re thinking of writing a review for a book you’ve loved, please do!

Moving on, so to speak, I hope those of us with pets are managing to find ways of helping them cope with what is, for them, a stressful time with regard to fireworks etc. Am currently listening to Classic FM Pet Sounds and enjoying it. Lady is curled up on the sofa and is at least relaxed which is probably the best to hope for.

I appreciate this year is going to be worse as there are no organised displays etc but I must admit I do wish there would be a switchover to using silent fireworks. All the colours, all the fun, none of the noise that is so distressing to animals. Win-win. The sooner they are used by everyone the better.

Screenshot_2020-11-05 Amazon co uk Customer reviews Tripping the Flash Fantastic
Trip down Memory Lane for my Chandler’s Ford Today this week. I’ll be talking about board and card games. Naturally I have a fondness for the word based board games! More on Friday.

Many thanks for the great response to my new story on Facebook flagging up my Youtube channel.

Am making good progress on my non-fiction project and looking forward to getting back on with tonight’s stint on that shortly.

Am also preparing some fab interviews to come on Chandler’s Ford Today for later this month so plenty going on. Looking forward to sharing these later in the month.

Also looking forward to taking part in the #BrechinBookFest later in November and will be writing about that for CFT just ahead of the event.

And don’t forget it you would like a signed copy of From Light to Dark and Back Again and/or Tripping the Flash Fantastic, do just DM me and we’ll take things from there.

Reviews, as ever, would always be most welcome. They help authors a lot and don’t need to be long. (Am so glad Lady can’t give a review. She looks distinctly unimpressed below!).

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From Light to Dark and Back Again

Do you have any favourite story themes? Mine fall into the following categories:-

1. Underdog winning through.

2. Injustice rectified. (Very close links to 1 usually).

3. Hidden pasts, usually magical, and kept hidden because the secret keeper has moved to another world, usually this one.

4. People trying to use magic for their own ends and failing miserably. (Lots of scope for humour here).

5. Character studies (I love the poignant ones which can show you another way of looking at things. Some of my historical flash tales cross with this category).

And the nice thing with all of the above is there is so much scope with each and every one. Different characters handle situations in their own way.

For one character, a humorous story would be their best vehicle. For another, it would be a “straight” tale, possibly tragic.

What I do know is the mood of the story has to reflect something of my character’s personality and attitudes, otherwise it won’t ring true.


I often work out what the most important thing is about the character I’m about to put in a story and then why that matters. There is the story in a nutshell.

Sometimes I work out what the character’s major trait is and how that affects them and the world around them. There is many a good story to be written using that route.

I do have a lot of fun with feisty characters here. They land themselves and others right in it and that is such fun to write and to read. I also think you can get a sense of when the writer has had fun creating their stories. Something of that comes through.

The reason formulaic writing can get a bad press is it comes through that the writer is bored with sticking to the same old, same old. Even in linked flash fiction stories, or series novels, the characters have to engage the readers each and every time.

That means the writer has to love writing about them to be able to keep that up. Therefore, there has to be something very special about their lead to generate that. What is the something special about your main character? Why do you write for them?

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I sometimes know the closing line for a flash fiction story right at the outset. I draft something that I know will be the perfect finish to a tale and then work backwards from there to get to the beginning of the story. It is also a great way of mixing up my approaches to story writing.

I find that keeps things fresh and interesting for me and hope it will do so for a reader too.

In The Magician in Tripping the Flash Fantastic, I knew what the closing line would be immediately. (I can’t say what it is without giving the story away!). Punchlines can work well here too. It’s then a question of finding the appropriate start to your story so that punchline is justified.

However I approach writing the story, my overall aim is to have a story that “flows well” so a reader will be taken along for what I hope will be an enjoyable but brief ride!

Fairytales with Bite – Who Controls The Magic?

Interesting question this one, I think. If your story is set in a magical world, is everyone magical? Does everyone have the same abilities? Is there room to improve on your skills here? Is there anyone who has more magic than anyone else and what do they do with the “extra”?

Is there magical infighting and how does that manifest itself? If a species with the gift of invisibility resents another species who can fly, how could they use their gift to try to either gain the ability to fly themselves or to stop the others from doing so?

Wherever there is any kind of power, there will always be those who resent the ones wielding it so you can reflect that in your stories too. It is all about control when all is said and done, so who does the controlling?

How do they maintain their position? Do they use fear or do they reward those who work for them well so people are happy to go along with it?

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This World and Others – Etiquette and Expectations

Have you given thought to etiquette and expectations in your fictional world? Are there any?!

Any kind of society, including a fictional one, has to have some sort of system by which it works. Where you have a system, you will often have a class system.

What is expected by those who run your created world of those they rule over. What do the “subjects”expect of their rulers? Do either of them deliver?!

Do standards here match or mirror those of here on Earth?

There should be some kind of laws your society runs on, including a criminal law so people know what will happen if they fall foul of what is expected from them. How would this manifest itself in the world you’ve invented? Is their idea of what is criminal the same as ours or different?

Do the various species in your fictional world have varying standards of etiquette? Are there any common grounds between them? If one species thinks burping is the highest compliment known, how do they get on with another species who considers it rude? What would unite them?

Plenty of food for thought there!

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Twitter Corner

 

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Learning From Stories

Image Credit: All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.

Facebook – General

Hope your Tuesday has been okay. Lady and I got a soaking this morning. She dried out quicker than I did. Hey hum…

Lots coming up on CFT in November – two fab interviews I’m looking forward to sharing and naturally I’ll be flagging up the Brechin/Angus Book Fest which I’ll be taking part in. Am also going to be using November to make a breakthrough on my non-fiction project so will not be short of things to do. But that’s always good!

Must admit I’ve not adjusted to the clock change well this time. Keep feeling really tired about 9 instead of about 10. My subsconcious clearly hasn’t been fooled by the change!

I suppose the good thing about the darker evenings is that it does encourage you to stay in, get to your desk and ignore what is going on in the mad, mad world, and focus on what your characters are getting up to instead!

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Pleased to say I’ll have more publication news later this week (Cafelit) and I was delighted to see a friend and fellow Chandler’s Ford Today writer, Mike Sedgwick, on Cafelit too recently.

There is a wonderfully eclectic mix of stories on Cafelit so do check the site out. See http://cafelitcreativecafe.blogspot.com/ and the idea is the stories here are long enough to have a drink to (and ideally a bit of cake too. Where would the world be without cake?!).

Great start to the week with another fab review for Tripping The Flash Fantastic. All reviews much appreciated.

Plenty on my To Do list right now but am looking forward to sharing my CFT post this week too. I’ll be talking about the joy of photos and even for fiction writers photos make a huge difference. After all we rely on being able to share book cover images, screenshots of fab reviews etc!

And photos can make great story prompts too.

 

Screenshot_2020-10-26 Tripping the Flash Fantastic Amazon co uk Symes, Allison 9781910542583 Books

Have started subbing stories again and looking forward to getting on with writing more. Have a lovely interview to write up for CFT and am looking forward to that.

Plus will be doing some prep work this week on my non-fiction project ahead of doing a massive stint on this during November. (I am basically looking to complete a first draft if I can. I have written some of the material already but I know it needs reorganising and more material to be added to it).

A big thanks to Wendy H. Jones who updated the #ClubhouseBookshop header today to include book cover images of some of the authors involved in this FB group. (And do check the group out – it will give you fab ideas for Christmas book presents for one thing!).

I’ll give you one guess precisely as to why I was pleased with what Wendy came up with!😂

Screenshot_2020-10-25 Clubhouse Bookshop Facebook

Delighted to have an unexpected guest blog appearance on #MaressaMortimer’s blog (and another review for Tripping the Flash Fantastic on Amazon). See the blog link.

And best of all, I am in very good company with Scottish crime writer #WendyHJones (and her DI Shona McKenzie series) and #LizCarter who has recently released her poetry and short story collection, Treasure in Dark Places.

If you need somewhere to start with your Christmas book buying wish list, folks, you could start here!

Despite the awful weather in the UK right now (and I hope everyone has kept as warm and dry as possible), it has been a lovely day as I’ve had the great pleasure of signing another book and getting that ready to post early next week. I love tasks like that!

Writing wise, I am busy preparing for another blog appearance and for an interview I’m looking forward to carrying out for Chandler’s Ford Today in due course. And I am about to get back to my non-fiction project which I hope to make great steps forward with during November.

Who needs to go outside and get wet then? Oh yes…. Lady but thankfully her walkies are finished for today and even she appreciates cosy time of an evening!

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

One of the things I enjoyed most for the cyberlaunch of Tripping The Flash Fantastic was in creating some videos where I read a couple of stories. I then talked a bit about what led me to the write the stories in the way that I have.

I hope to be doing more of that in due course but for now my top tip is, after you’ve got the first draft down, DO take time to think back on why you’ve written the story the way you have. Ask yourself if the story DOES achieve what you hoped it would.

You are going to see the flaws of course. Don’t worry about that. This is a draft after all but if your key point was to show a character overcoming adversity, well check they actually do so and in a way that is realistic to them and to your reader.

A character using magic to help them get out of a situation is okay where your story is clearly set in a world where that is possible. It’s not okay in the middle of a suburban High Street with no previous hint of magic being a possibility. (That scenario is likely to cause unfavourable comment! Mind you, I suppose there could be comic possibilities there! The general point remains though. If magic is a possibility, then it should be flagged up early in the story. You don’t want to risk your reader feeling cheated).

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What do you learn most from stories?

Well, you learn what you love and loathe. But it pays to look carefully at a story that didn’t grab you and ask yourself why that was. There usually is something (for me it’s usually characterisation that didn’t convince me) and then you can take that and hopefully avoid making the same mistake in your own work.

For a story you love, look at what DID grab you and explore why that was. If it’s sparkling dialogue say, look at how the writer has written their wonderful prose. What can you learn from that?

I love playing the guessing game with stories new to me. I do try to guess how the characters will end up. I’ve mentioned before that I love being wrong-footed by authors here but, on the assumption this happens to you too, go back and look at where you think the writer “mis-led” you.

Almost inevitably you will find clues in the story you should’ve picked up on but didn’t on the first read through. And again you can learn from that for your own storytelling.

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Sent off a flash tale today so pleased with that. Hope to be back to writing flash more regularly now though obviously marketing for TTFF will be ongoing.

I am trying to do something on that most days and see it as a long term thing. This is the good thing with marketing. It doesn’t all have to be done by a specific time period. After all I will want to talk about both of my flash collections, do what I can to promote them, for a VERY long time.

The best marketing is in itself creative so I see it as part of the whole writing “package”.

Hope you have a good writing and reading week and I hope you enjoyed The Perfect System yesterday.  Follows below so yes story time!

You know I have a fondness for random generators. Well I was exploring a random verb generator today and came up with the words ride, file, and cling. As ever with these things, you choose how many words you want to generate. You can also set the first and last letter. I tend to just choose the number of words I want. So what can I do with these three then? Let’s have a go…

The Perfect System
‘Your timing is not wonderful, Inspector. I wanted to complete my filing,’ the old lady peered up at her unwelcome visitor. But given she was only 3’10, she peered up at almost everyone. ‘Couldn’t this wait? All I want is to get myself organised and all I get are visitors turning up at all times. Most inconsiderate I call it.’
‘No, Ma’am.This can’t wait. And I’m sorry to disturb you but even in a magical world such as ours, the law won’t wait for anyone and, with yet another disappearance, I must talk to you now. You were the last one to see Draganna alive.’
‘Draganna.. Draganna…oh yes, the tiny fairy who thinks she knows better than everyone else. That is who you mean, Inspector?’
The Inspector coughed. ‘I have heard tale the lady could be bossy, Ma’am, but she didn’t deserve to die.’
‘May I know what happened to her?’
‘Draganna was last seen going for a ride on a dragon. Goodness knows why. The government warn people often enough dragon riding is dangerous. You can cling on as much as you want but if the dragon gets fed up, it just turns its head and either eats you whole or flames you. They are not meant to be used as taxi rides.’
The old lady tutted and went to her filing cabinet. She took out a manilla folder and opened it. Inside was a picture of a girl, a dragon, and a one page report. ‘Is this of any use to you, Inspector?’
The Inspector gasped. ‘That’s Draganna. That’s the dragon. And this page “predicts” Draganna will die by dragon. This is dated a year ago.’
‘And Draganna died when?’
‘Today, Ma’am. Look how…’
‘I want to know, Inspector, why my predictor filing system is out of sync. I will complain to the manufacturers. They don’t make things the way they used to do. I pride myself on my accuracy and I will not stand for my timing system to be out and by a year at that!’
‘Ma’am, that is not the point. You predicted this girl’s death and the way it would happen and it has turned out that way. I think you need to come with me to the station for a chat.’
‘Very well, Inspector, if you insist but may I first go and get my coat?’
‘Of course.’
Out in the hallway the old lady put on her coat, having first had a quick look at the manilla file inside it. It read “Inspector Know It All. Death by enraged elder fairy godmother. Thirty seconds after he escorts her out of the house.’
The old lady smiled. Her timing might be out but her predictions always came true.

Ends
Allison Symes – 24th October 2020

Hope you enjoy!

PS I was so thrilled to find this pic on Pixabay. It tied in beautifully with my story Time for Some Peace on the book trailer for Tripping the Flash Fantastic and it works well again here!  But so you can have another story, I will simply put the book trailer in again! The picture I refer to is the one of the dragon who looks as if she is congratulating herself after a spectacular burst of flame… as you would.

  Book Trailer – Tripping The Flash Fantastic

Goodreads Author Blog – What Drew You Into Reading?

I owe my love of reading to my late mother. I loved reading from an early age and never got out of the habit. I’m phenomenally grateful for what I see as presents – the gift of literacy, the gift of wanting to read, and the gift of enjoying stories of most kinds. Those gifts are priceless I think.

So what drew you into reading? Were you encouraged to read early? Did you discover a wonderful book and wanted to read more by the author? (I was like that with the wonderful works of Terry Pratchett. I first read Jingo and then absolutely had to read the rest of the Discworld series).

What matters is we keep on reading. It’s important not to get out of the habit even if you don’t have as much time for reading as you might like. This is where short story collections play a wonderful role as they are great for dipping into and I would say that even if I didn’t have work appearing in them, honest!

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Swanwick Memories – see below!

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This tweet came up again on a friend’s Twitter feed (hello, #ValPenny!) but it’s a great picture from Swanwick Writers’ Summer School and great to share again. I can safely say all of us in this picture are very much looking forward to Swanwick 2021, having missed the cancelled Swanwick 2020 enormously.

THE PHONE CONVERSATION

Image Credit:

All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated.

Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.


Facebook – General and Chandler’s Ford Today
Double post from me tonight. A busy end to a busy week!

First up tonight is the link to my Chandler’s Ford Today post for this week. The Phone Conversation is a bit different from the kind of post I usually write here as (a) I set a writing challenge in it and (b) I include a new piece of flash fiction too.

My challenge is where I invite you to name one person (existing forwards or backwards in time) who you would love to speak to by phone. You only get the ONE phone call. Remember the old cop shows that always had that as a plot device? Well, I’ve taken the idea and run with it here.

Whichever direction in time you choose, the recipient would be enabled to use the phone. (Nor, if you go back in time, would they be burnt for witchcraft in being able to use such a strange device!).

Rules: Keep it short, keep it funny (and that rules out politics given that is anything BUT funny).

Now naturally I answered my own challenge and came up with a new flash fiction story as it was the best way for me to answer it! See The Biter Bit which I hope both amuses you and acts as a kind of heads-up to be wary of the scammers out there.

I look forward to seeing what you come up with – comments over on the CFT page please. (Oh and I had great fun with the captions for some of the images below but do check these out over on the CFT page! You can probably guess which ones I had the fun with!).

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SECOND POST!
A big thank you to #BarryLillie for hosting me on his blog today. The questions were challenging but great fun to answer! Hope you enjoy.

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Delighted to share another lovely review for Tripping The Flash Fantastic. Many thanks!

Screenshot_2020-10-15 Truly delightful
Now as we head rapidly towards the end of the year, and with book events mainly going to online versions only, writers, I know, are going to be even more appreciative of support than we normally are. (And generally we ARE an appreciative lot, honest!).

The nice thing is there are two big things you can do to support the writer friends in your life and they cost nothing, merely take a little time.

These are:-
1. Support their event by “going” to it even if only for a short while.
2. Give an honest review of their book on Amazon and Goodreads in particular.

Many thanks, folks, on behalf of EVERY writer!😊😍

thank you signage

Photo by Giftpundits.com on Pexels.com

cup of aromatic cappuccino with thank you words on foam

Photo by wewe yang on Pexels.com

Many thanks to #ValPenny for hosting me on her blog today. This is the final part of my mini blog tour, all involving splendid people from Swanwick Writers’ Summer School. (Last week I was guest on #PatriciaMOsborne‘s and #JenWilson‘s blogs – thank you, ladies!).

Tonight’s post with Val is an in-depth article. Naturally I talk about Tripping The Flash Fantastic, what I love about flash fiction writing, and discuss what I can of my internet search history! 😂😂😂 Best leave it there I think.

I also share a little about my writing routine and what I think is the best thing about being a writer.

Thanks again, Val. It was fab to chat!

From Light to Dark and Back Again

I’ve written a new flash story, The Biter Bit, as part of my Chandler’s Ford Today post this week (and that’s a first). Hope you enjoy!

I found writing a story was the best way to answer the challenge I set in this post (and naturally I was going to meet said challenge myself). Stories are fabulous vehicles for getting points across without preaching or switching people off.

(Oh and a quick update on Tripping The Flash Fantastic. It is available on the Waterstones website too).

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Hope the week has been a good one. Now I usually share news about my Chandler’s Ford Today post over on my Facebook Author page. But this week’s post is different!

Called The Phone Conversation, I issue a fun challenge and share a new flash fiction story in my response to the challenge I set! Can’t really say more than that without giving the game away but link up tomorrow. (See above!).

I don’t usually combine my fiction with non-fiction writing but for the challenge I set, I realised using a flash story was the best way to meet it! More tomorrow. It is the first flash tale I’ve written for a couple of weeks given the cyberlaunch for TTFF etc and it was good to get back to that again.


A huge thanks to #ValPenny for hosting me on her blog today. It’s always a joy to chat about flash fiction. Naturally, Tripping The Flash Fantastic was mentioned too!

(Link to go on my website shortly on my interviews page and later in the week on my next blog post. I have shared this on my author page on Facebook tonight though so do pop across to that if you would like to read this now. Val knows how to set good questions!).

I do have an interview page on my website (which I will be updating shortly to include the mini blog tour I’ve been on with Val today, and #PatriciaMOsborne and #JenWilson last week). If you want to know more about my work and/or flash fiction, the interview page is a good place to start.

(And I will be updating the page again probably over the weekend to include my appearance on #BarryLillie’s blog this week too).


Fairytales With Bite – Is Magic All That Wonderful in Stories?

One thing I don’t think is stressed enough is that magic is not the be all and end all in a story. Nor should it be. If a character can just solve all of their problems with the wave of the old magic wand, well that’s going to make for a very boring story. Wave wand, conflict and story over. Hmm.,, I don’t know about you but I would feel a bit cheated with that.

There should be limitations as to how magic can be used (and I also believe it would have to drain the user of it physically and mentally too). I felt the Harry Potter series covered this aspect well.

Also Lord Vetinari in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series also makes pointed comments about how dangerous magic is especially when countering Moist Von Lipwig’s plea to use the stuff in Raising Steam and call the wizards in to help with a major and urgent problem he’s facing.

So, for me, a good story does show the down side of magic. I also like to see characters call on their own non-magical resources to solve problems. I also like to seem them overcome issues which are caused by magic. And when magic is used, it should be where there is no other option and should be for the good of more than one character.

Also there’s the whole aspect of abuse of magical power to be explored too. How that is tackled or not is to me far more interesting than the magical element itself.

 

This World and Others – What Readers Need to Know

The writer will always need to know far more about their fictional world than the reader does. You will need to know what drives your characters and some of their back story but that doesn’t mean it has to appear on the page the reader enjoys.

What should come through is a sense that the writer really knows their characters and it is that I think readers pick up on.

I love discovering more about the fictional world as the story goes along. I don’t need to know it all at once. And having characters reveal things is also intriguing. What is obvious to one character isn’t to another and that character discovers something new at the same time as the reader does. Always like that.

So it is a question then of working out what it is your reader does need to know and how best to “plant it” in the story. You don’t want a huge block of info all in one hit as that risks sending the reader to sleep (especially if their reading is done at bedtime as mine is!).

But by drip feeding information, that goes a long way to keeping the reader turning the pages to find out more.

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Thank You!

Image Credit: All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Image of Lady and I taken by Adrian Symes.

Facebook – General

Final prize winner and runner-up prizes hand delivered locally today. Many thanks to everyone who has tweeted/sent messages to say they’ve got their “prize bundles”. Always nice to get something nice in the post/through the door instead of the usual bills etc.  (See tweets at the end of tonight’s post). This is one of the nicest aspects of being a writer!).

Writing wise, I’m working my way back into my “normal” writing life with my CFT post already scheduled for this week. Am hoping to get back to my long term non-fiction project sometime this week and want to start submitting new work to Cafelit etc before long. There are other marketing things I want to do for Tripping The Flash Fantastic. So definitely not going to be short of things to do!

It can be tricky getting the balance right for writing new work, editing work so you can get on and submit it somewhere, and marketing for work you’ve already done.

My overall view is to try and get something done on every aspect in allocated time slots for them several times during the week.

Okay some weeks I will get more done than others but it is making the space available that helps so much here. Tuesday, I’m drafting blogs, Thursday, I’m marketing books etc etc. It is not set in stone and allows room for overlap but does make sure I cover as much as I can over a seven day period.

If I see an invite on a book related blog or FB group to share details of my new book, then I’ll drop things to do precisely that and resume what I was doing afterwards. But you get the idea.

I don’t think there is a perfect system for this kind of thing (and I think I’d be distrustful of anyone who said there was. What works for one person may not work for another) but what I do love about the writing community as a whole is the willingness to share ideas.

I’ve lost count of how many tips I’ve picked up over the years which have all increased my productivity/time management so I get more work done overall. (Scrivener is by the far the best tip I’ve taken advantage of here!).


Hope your Monday has been a reasonable one. I do feel a little like I’ve crashed back to earth again after the cyberlaunch for Tripping The Flash Fantastic on Saturday but I was expecting that.

Mind you, with a day spent washing, rescuing said washing from heavy rainfall, cooking and shopping, well it is definitely life as it is lived once again. Nobody said it had to be glamorous! (Just as well really! 😊😊😊).

Things to come this week. I will be appearing on #ValPenny’s blog later this week and am looking forward to sharing the link for that.

Quick heads-up to the winners and runners-up in the various little games I set on Saturday – your prizes are winging their way to you via Royal Mail so should be with you later this week. Hope you enjoy. It was a great joy to get those off at the post office today (and yes I did tell them what was in the packets!).

There are a couple of you lucky people who live near enough for me to deliver your prizes so I hope to do that tomorrow.

And before I forget, a big thanks for all the entries to the photo caption competition. All of them made me laugh and it was a hard task deciding on the winner and runner-up. This is something I will look to do again. It was great fun. (Photo I used is below. This just had “caption competition” all over it – well it did to me! Image taken by my better half, Adrian Symes).

LADY DISCUSSES TTFF WITH ME

My Chandler’s Ford Today post is going to be different this week too. It’s the first post I’ve written which is a non-fiction one (as usual) but which also incorporates a new flash fiction story from yours truly. The tale is funny but also gets a good point across. I look forward to sharing the link for that on Friday.

I can’t really say more without giving things away BUT can add I am hoping people will join in with the challenge I set in this post. Oh and the challenge is definitely “do-able” so more later in the week.

A HUGE thank you to all who supported my cyberlaunch in any way on Saturday night.

It was great fun to “chat” with so many of you and I had a whale of a time. Hope you did too.

Glad to see that the old Youtube clip of Monster Mash went down so well with everyone. It was great having a trip down that particular Memory Lane!

I’ve always loved the track and see it as a kind of a salute to Bewitched, The Munsters, The Addams Family etc. And given many of my flash fiction tales are on the quirky side, it is such an apt track to pick!

Have happily spent today getting the prizes ready to send to those lucky people who won or were runners-up in my raffle, quiz, and photo caption competition. Am looking forward to telling the good people in my local Post Office what is in the packets before posting them off! Subtle advertising or showing off – YOU decide!😂😂

And the icing on the cake today?

I’m absolutely thrilled to share that Tripping the Flash Fantastic broke into the Top 1000 on Kindle for Single Author Story Collections on Amazon earlier today. This is a first for me and am feeling seriously chuffed, as you do.🙂😉

Thank you, everyone!

PS I do offer signed copies of the paperback and am happy to post them off to you especially if you’re in the UK.  Just DM me and we can take things from there. For anyone outside of the UK, I can post the book but will need to allow extra postage costs. Having said that, I do have an Amazon page in various countries so it would be worth checking those out.

Screenshot_2020-10-11 Tripping the Flash Fantastic eBook Symes, Allison Amazon co uk Kindle Store

Now this was a time related post on Saturday night of course! But I am leaving the link to the discussion page for my event here. Do check out the posts – and the links. I will put in shortly a couple of my videos sharing extracts from my new book.

About 20 minutes to go to my cyberlaunch for Tripping the Flash Fantastic. Hope to see you there. Have got a great pic for a photo caption competition so get your thinking caps on – oh and keep them clean! More to come on the launch page which is at https://www.facebook.com/events/1246876649024453/?active_tab=discussion

And do see http://mybook.to/TrippingFlashFantastic for more!

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

I’ve mentioned the use of random generators before and I used one on Saturday night for my cyberlaunch for Tripping The Flash Fantastic. I used a number generator to give all visitors to my launch a unique number. I then used it again later to “draw” the numbers for the winner and runners-up for my online raffle.
 
Now another way to use the random number generator is to use it to set the word count for your next flash tale. I’ve just used it and generated “25”. So let’s see then… (oh and I am counting the title in the word count).
 
Twenty-Five
It was my favourite number until I got soaked through thanks to the bus driver speeding his wretched double decker through a massive puddle.
Allison Symes – 13th October 2020
 
Hope you enjoy!
 
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Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.comI found a random generator to be more useful than a pair of dice for the raffle but it is hard to find a picture of a random number generator!


A new flash fiction story from me, which is funny yet still manages to get a good point across, will form part of my Chandler’s Ford Today post this week. I look forward to sharing the link on Friday.

When I started drafting my post, I hadn’t planned to put fiction into it. After all my CFT posts are strictly non-fiction but I quickly realised that what I was trying to say would work better as a flash tale in the overall post so that it is what I have done. I am also setting a challenge in this post but it is a fun one so I hope you join in!

I sometimes use flash fiction directly in marketing. (After all I include a flash tale in both of my book trailers for FLTDBA and now Tripping the Flash Fantastic. It is a great way to show people what flash fiction is as well as being a very useful “taster”).

This is where the advantage of a short form comes in useful. I can share a whole story and it doesn’t take too much in download time etc.


What a weekend! Many thanks to everyone for your support for my cyberlaunch on Saturday night.

Marketing for a book is, of course, an ongoing thing, and should always be seen as long term. Last week, for me, was the big push ahead of the cyberlaunch naturally.

Plans now are to continue to find different ways to market the book, get back to flash fiction writing (well, that third collection won’t write itself!), and I am itching to resume work on a non-fiction book too. So no danger of me becoming bored any time soon and that is how I like it!

Now on my original FB post. I did say the following!

I will just finish tonight by sharing the trailer for TTFF again. I share a story, Time For Some Peace, here, and it makes a good place to start if you’re new to flash fiction.

However, I’ve already shared this above so will share here a recording of me reading a very short piece called The Back of Beyond from TTFF. Hope you enjoy.

Am looking forward to sharing some of my flash tales from Tripping The Flash Fantastic at my launch in about 20 minutes time as I type this. Hope to see you at https://www.facebook.com/events/124687664902445/?active_tab=discussion

Note:  videos included above but do check out the event posts as they were great fun. The whole Facebook post is far too long to reproduce here and it is simpler to share the link but also check out the music clips here. It was such fun and everyone seemed to enjoy it which I am so pleased about! I had such fun playing with Canva with various things for my FB posts in the run up to the launch – see in the pictures below. Will happily use Canva again.

Goodreads Author Blog – What Is It About Books You Love Most?

Difficult question to answer isn’t it? So much depends on the genre chosen too.

Overall, it has to be the characters who grip me. I’ve got to want to find out what happens to them. I’ve got to care about the outcome. It does have to matter to the character and therefore to me as the reader.

For historical fiction, I’m always keen to find out how a writer shares the information we need to know about the period without giving us “information overload”. That is they don’t give a whole wealth of information so you end up forgetting what the story actually is.

I like to see information drip fed to me in an entertaining way. One of my favourite books ever is The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey and that is a great example of how information is shared while keeping the story going and the pace up.

For crime fiction, I want to see how the author gives clues without giving the whole game away and that is not an easy balancing act.

For fantasy, I want to see characters I can identify with in terms of their needs and longings even if their species is totally alien in every sense of that phrase!

For me, a good read of whatever kind is getting the readers hooked to the characters. For non-fiction, that character is the voice of the narrator.

Happy reading!

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