Wishing, Reluctant Readers, and Talks

Image Credit:-

All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated.

Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Images from the Share Your Story Writing Summit supplied by the organisers, Creative U. I was on Day 2 of the summit, see below.

Screenshots from North Manchester FM taken by me, Allison Symes, but based on their website. (And Hannah Kate asks wonderful questions! Really enjoyed being interviewed by her).

Fabulous pics of me at Swanwick Writers Summer School taken by #JenWilson and sent to me via my Facebook timeline for my birthday (22nd March). Many thanks, Jen. It was fab to see these pics again.

Screenshot from Tim Taylor’s blog, where I was a guest this week, taken by me from his blog. And there’s a new flash fiction piece from me here. A huge thanks, Tim, for hosting me.

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Facebook – General


Have loved being part of the Share Your Story Writing Summit which finishes at the end of today. Good news though – you can still register and download the talks. There is a fee of $97 USD (from 24th March onwards) but you do get 23 workshops for that. I do earn an affiliate fee (as indeed do all of the presenters).

Link is at https://www.creativeu.ca/a/46030/yLSebqrq

Good news is you are very quick, you will get the talks for $67 USD but you do need to act fast to get the cheaper rate.

Delighted to report the Covid jabs went well for my better half and I yesterday. We had the Astra Zeneca and I was amazed at how painless it was. I have literally had more pain taking a plaster off! No side effects so far though I did feel more tired than I thought I would be last night.

Hope that stays the case as I know some people have had effects a day or so later. But relieved it has been done and better half and I will enjoy another jaunt to Salisbury in June. (I would far rather feel a bit tired etc than have the dreaded Covid. I know people who have been so ill with it).

Many thanks also for the positive responses to my interview with #HannahKate.

Now writing wise I’m working on a book proposal for a non-fiction project. Am also starting to get material together for a third flash fiction collection. These two projects will easily keep me out of mischief for this year. Am hoping to submit the proposal later in the summer and maybe the flash collection by the end of the year. I know better now than to set definite dates. Life can and does get in the way at times but I have found setting a goal incredibly useful. It helps me focus and I am much more likely to achieve something concrete doing this.

The great thing is though you get to choose to set the goals. For a bigger project it may well help to break it down in sections. Those goals will seem more achievable then and should encourage you to get the next one!

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22nd March – my birthday and covid jab

Firstly, a huge thank you for the wonderful birthday wishes received today. Much appreciated and I was particularly pleased to see some wonderful pics from #JenWilson from previous years at the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School. See below!

Secondly, glad to report the Covid jab went well for my better half and I. We were impressed with how well organised everything was. It’s an unusual birthday gift perhaps but one that is much appreciated by us. We know people who have been ill with Covid so having the vaccine was a no-brainer for us.

Thirdly, my CFT post this week will be about Talking About Writing, which is a quick look back at how recent events have gone as I have talked about writing a lot lately! This was not something I anticipated doing when I first started writing but it is something worth “getting ready for”. Link up on Friday.

Can you describe what you write to a stranger? Can you share what it is you love about writing what you do? I also share a few thoughts on the prep work I carried out for the radio interview, the summit, and the WI talk. One thing I did learn reasonably early on is that prep work always pays off. And it is not too soon to think about how you will share what you write with others and getting yourself ready to talk about that.

Radio Interview Link

Thrilled to share the link to my interview on North Manchester FM yesterday. A huge thanks to #HannahKate for interviewing me on Hannah’s Bookshelf. Hope you enjoy! It was great fun to do this but agony to only get to choose three books for the Apocalypse Books section of the show. Every writer would want to smuggle in far more than that!

https://www.mixcloud.com/Hannahs_Bookshelf/hannahs-bookshelf-with-special-guest-allison-symes-20032021/



It was a real pleasure to chat to #HannahKate for her Hannah’s Bookshelf show on North Manchester FM. My interview was broadcast this afternoon but I hope to be able to share the link soon. I chat about flash fiction, blogging, and share some tips that have stood me in good stead amongst the wonderful questions Hannah set me.

Am enjoying watching the talks on the Share Your Story Writing summit. It’s not too late to sign up and if you do it before the summit ends on the 23rd March, you can (a) access the remaining talks for FREE for a limited period and/or (b) get a cheaper rate if you decide you want to purchase the 23 workshops and watch them at a time that suits you.

This is $67 USD until the summit ends. After the summit the price goes up to $97 USD. There is an affiliate link so if you do decide to go for the paid for option I will earn some money from it.

It has been a blast taking part in the summit and being interviewed by Hannah. The writing journey is an interesting one as you can’t know exactly what will happen next. You can make plans, but they may not come off. Or circumstances force plans to change (and haven’t we known all about that over the last year?!).

Am I looking forward to what comes next? Oh yes!

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again


A huge thanks for the great response to my story video, Wishing. It was great fun to write. I do love exploring the Youtube free to use audio library. There are some great tracks in there.

I mentioned on my author page I’m starting to get together material for a third flash fiction collection. I estimate it takes about a year to 18 months to have a collection ready for submission. Well, it takes me that long!

The editing on a collection is an interesting task. As well as looking at the individual stories, I’m looking for emerging themes, appropriate grouping of stories and so on. My overall aim is a sensible, logical, and enjoyable “flow” of stories for the reader. The lovely thing with that is for my first book, this “flow” directly inspired the title – it really was a case of From Light to Dark and Back Again.

The idea for the title Tripping The Flash Fantastic came from one of the stories in the book. I changed the word “light” from the story to “flash” for the title as I thought it would make a great flag for the book’s genre. And the word “flash” in turn inspired ideas for what could be on the book cover.


My latest story video on Youtube is called Wishing. Hope you enjoy it. There’s a lot of truth behind it!

 

Guest Blog Appearance

A big thanks to #TimTaylor for hosting me on his blog today. Tim set a theme of writing about the pandemic and asked for flash pieces as well as blog posts about it. Now I hadn’t anticipated writing about Covid but the thought of producing a flash story based on it did bring out the “go on, give it a go instinct” in me – and here is the result!
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And to see the rest of the story, do go to the link!


Plenty of marketing for the flash fiction going on this week with my interview on North Manchester FM by #HannahKate today. I hope to be able to share the link for that soon. Also the Share Your Story Writing Summit is currently on and I have been so pleased to receive positive feedback on my presentation, Flash Fiction – Why I Love It and Why I Think Every Writer Should Try It.

Now to resume writing flash fiction! It is always a tricky balancing act for any writer working out just how much marketing to do in relation to creating new material. I don’t think there is any one simple answer to this either. My approach is to look at the week as a whole and try to have a 50/50 split. It doesn’t always work out. This week it will be 80% marketing for example but there will be other weeks when it will be 80% new writing/editing material etc.

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Goodreads Author Blog – Coaxing in Reluctant Readers

I’m a flash fiction writer and one of my hopes for the form is that it may prove to be an excellent way to coax in the reluctant reader. For one thing, with flash fiction stories coming in at a maximum of 1000 words (and often considerably less than that), I’m not asking a reader to commit to too much in one go!

I’ve loved stories and books all of my life (thanks to my lovely much missed mum encouraging and developing that love) but not everyone “gets” stories and books. So how do you reach them and persuade them books can be “their bag” too?

No easy answer to that but I hope films might draw people in to read the books the movies are based on. I also hope audio can be a way in. You can listen to a great story as well as read one. And as I say I hope flash fiction, which reads well on screens, would also help here.

I do know that the love of reading should be encouraged. I think it is a question of convincing people there really are books out there which would suit them.

 

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Superstitions, Characters, and the Love of Story

Image Credit:-

All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated.

Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. (Some screenshots of my reviews too).

Looking forward to the WI talk I’m giving this week (17th March), the start of the Share Your Story Writing Summit (18th to 23rd March 2021), and the interview with #HannahKate which goes out on North Manchester FM on Saturday, 20th March 2021. (Images connected to the summit were supplied by the organisers, Creative U, or screenshots from their website advertising the summit).

And I have my first Covid jab on 22nd March… it will be a busy and unforgettable few days for all sorts of reasons!

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Facebook – General

Lovely big walk with Lady today. Delighted to spot a few early bluebells out and some early blossom. Spring is almost here! It’s hard to say what my favourite season is as all of them have charms of their own. (Yes, even winter – I love seeing the silhouettes of bare trees against a setting sun in the winter months and must try and remember to get more pictures of these).

Thanks for the great response to the heads-up about my CFT post this week, Places to Go For Writing Advice. Feedback is always useful and something writers often cry out for, especially for reviews. It helps us know if we are generally speaking on the right track and reviews, as well as being useful for marketing, can be a great source of encouragement.

Given we spend a lot of time at our desks on our own, hoping our characters are going down well with people (or going down the way they are meant to!), that encouragement is so useful. Go on you know you want to – write a review today!

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My Chandler’s Ford Today post this week will be Places to Go For Writing Advice and, while this will be especially useful to new writers, I hope everyone can get something helpful from it. This is the kind of broad overview post I would’ve loved to have read when I was starting out so many years ago as it is a good place to start. (It’s also reassuring to know there are places you can go and that there is no such thing as a stupid question either!). I’ll be sharing useful links too. Post up on Friday.

I’m talking to The Disparate Housewives WI-affiliated group on Wednesday night and part of that talk will be about the ups and downs of the writing life. The idea for my CFT post this week has come from that talk. I love it when one piece of writing inspires ideas for other work. (It’s useful too!).


A huge thank you for the wonderful response to my post yesterday about my late mum gifting me the love of books and stories from an early age, which is something I do appreciate more than words can actually say. I was moved by the responses. Thank you, all.

I generally don’t write about mothers in my stories but with one exception. That is Time For Some Peace from Tripping the Flash Fantastic, where I look at motherhood from the viewpoint of a lady dragon. (As you do – and someone had to!).

My main focus on characters is usually centred on them as opposed to their relationships with others. I can and usually do imply the latter through what I show a reader via the character’s own head, attitudes etc. It is a very direct approach and one that works well for flash fiction.

When I outline my characters, I look at their major traits and what reactions are likely to come from those. When I have a longer flash piece, with more than one character in it, then I can let the sparks fly but I have chosen Character A to be that spark generator and it will be seen from their viewpoint. I have, interestingly, come across a competition recently in the Writing Magazine comps guide where the organisers are looking for the same story told twice, but from opposing viewpoints. Now that is an interesting idea and one I hope to explore at some point.


Today would have been my mum’s 87th birthday. One of my fondest memories was when I showed her my first story in print – A Helping Hand in Bridge House Publishing’s Alternative Renditions anthology back in 2009. She was so pleased. I owe my love of stories and books (and therefore writing) to her.

And to all who will find tomorrow a difficult day, for whatever reason, know you’re not alone. Virtual hugs to you all.

I’ve long thought that giving someone the wish to read and to keep on reading is a truly fantastic gift for anyone, whether or not you go on to write your own stories. It certainly inspires me as a writer to try to keep on writing tales that will entertain people.

I’m not a literary writer. I never will be. I have nothing against literary fiction, far from it, but it is just not me. Seeking to entertain people through stories is a fantastic thing to do in and of itself and great fun.

But it is the love of story that sparks all of that.

Thanks, Mum.

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Allison Symes and published works 640 VERSION

Allison Symes and some early works.

My flash collections are available in Kindle and paperback

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Thanks for the great response to my video Superstitions yesterday. Much appreciated.

This story hinged on a well known superstition and showing my character is more affected by them than she perhaps cares to admit. This was a case of knowing what the twist would be and then working backwards to getting to a logical start point.

But I do deliberately mix up how I write a story. Sometimes I have a line which I know will make a cracking opening, It is then a question of working out where that line could lead to and going with the storyline I like best.

And I have to be “taken” by the characters. If they don’t grip me, then I can forget any chance of hooking other readers with them. It is useful to know what fascinates you about characters you’ve read and work out what makes them work for you. You can then apply what you discover here to what you then go on to write.

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Am delighted to share a new story video – Superstitions. Hope you enjoy. Am enjoying exploring the Youtube audio library. Good fun to try the different tracks and try to match an appropriate one with the mood of my tale. As for my CFT posts, where I have to think laterally sometimes to find pictures that suit my theme, I am doing this with music, which I had not anticipated doing when I first set the Youtube channel up. It’s good fun though!

Many thanks for the great response to my post yesterday about my forthcoming interview with #HannahKate. If you can listen live, it is on Saturday between 2pm and 4pm on North Manchester FM. Hannah’s show is called Hannah’s Bookshelf. I will share the link to the show as soon as I can after broadcast and I am really looking forward to doing that. The interview was great fun to do and I can’t wait to share it.

Now I know I’ve mentioned before that interviewing characters is a great technique for a writer to work out what makes the characters tick. I’ve found I write the characters’ stories up with greater depth, even in a restricted word count, because I do know “my people” well enough.

(And it is good to remember it is the character’s story. Why? It helps you focus on getting their viewpoint across without the author voice butting in and, frankly, getting in the way. It’s also a great way to avoid head-hopping because you are focusing on your major character, their needs and wants etc).

But it is down to you what questions you use to find out what you need to know. I need to know what the major traits are, for example, but a good secondary question to that is to ask your characters what made them develop those traits in the first place. A defensive trait for example – what caused your character to develop that as they won’t have been born with it? That could trigger story ideas.

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I will flag this up again later, when I have the link, but my interview with #HannahKate on North Manchester FM will be going out next Saturday, 20th March.

It was great fun talking to Hannah about flash fiction and blogging, my twin writing loves.

It is going to be a busy week as I chat online to a WI group about The Ups and Downs of Becoming an Author. I also hope to share some examples of flash fiction as I have found the best way to explain it is demonstrate it! The 100 worders (the drabbles) are especially useful here!

And the Share Your Story Writing Summit begins on 18th March. My topic for that is Flash Fiction – Why I Love It and Why I Think Every Writer Should Try It.

Then there’s the interview with Hannah on the 20th. (And I get my covid jab, the first one, on the 22nd – well I’m pleased about that anyway!).

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Goodreads Author Blog – Books as Gifts

I always love to give and receive books as gifts. For me they are the perfect present and so easy to gift wrap too! Also no calories are involved whatsoever and a good book as I’ve mentioned before will take you to all sorts of wonderful worlds. Books are the places to escape your cares for a while. (This is just one reason why I can’t read misery memoir. When I read, I do want to escape. I guess that is why fantasy IS high up on my reading list).

But flipping this topic, let’s wonder about what books would make great presents for fictional characters.

Scrooge – The Art of Generosity. (He would have got more from this after the visits from the ghosts).
Jane Eyre – Exploring the Attic.
Elizabeth Bennet – Knowing Your Own Mind
Frodo Baggins – Appreciating Your Friends
Miss Marple – Anything from the I-Spy collections.
Hercule Poirot – Hair Care for the Fussy

Okay over to you – what books would you give to fictional characters?

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Share Your Story Summit and Musical Connections

Image Credit:-

All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated.

Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.

Book signing images for From Light to Dark and Back Again were taken by my lovely editor at Chandler’s Ford Today, Janet Williams.

Lady looking on unimpressed as I signed Tripping the Flash Fantastic was an image taken by Adrian Symes.

Images from the Share Your Story Writing Summit provided by them to all presenters (and am thrilled to share what follows!).

Details of the summit below. Will also be issuing a bonus newsletter shortly with full details of the summit too. 

To sign up for my newsletter (with giveaway) please sign up here.

3. writers IG 2021

Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today


Pleased to share my Chandler’s Ford Today post for this week. Musical Connections was a joy to write and listen to (see the post for some wonderful Youtube clips) and I hope you enjoy it. Many thanks for the great comments on this so far.

Over the next couple of weeks, I plan to share a couple of posts on topics I hope will be useful. I plan to discuss book trailers and videos and give some useful pointers for where to go for down-to-earth advice when new to the writing game (though that will still be handy for older hands given timely reminders are always helpful! I know I find them handy!).

Thrilled to bits to be taking part in the Share Your Story summit later on in the month and am looking forward to giving a Zoom talk to a WI affiliated group just ahead of when the summit starts.

Slap bang in the middle of the summit will be when my recent interview with #HannahKate will be broadcast, link to follow in due course.

So lots going on but all of it fun and that’s the way I like it!

Quick reminder that my Musical Connections post is up on Chandler’s Ford Today tomorrow and I hope it leads to plenty of lovely meanderings down Memory Lane. It certainly had that effect on me!

But the big news is I can now share more details of the international writing summit I’m taking part in. This is the first event of this kind I’ve taken part in as a presenter (though I have been to others as an audience member and loved them).

I will be producing a bonus newsletter with full details over the next couple of days so please sign up to my newsletter via my website (allisonsymescollectedworks.com) if you would like that.

I’m planning to produce a quick Local Author News Update post for CFT probably sometime next week outside of my usual Friday slot as well. Will flag these up as and when they’re about.

Meanwhile, the main points:-

Summit is from 18th to 23rd March 2021.

Summit is called the Share Your Story Writing Summit and features a wide range of authors and topics.

There is limited free access with 3 to 4 presenters on any one day of the summit.

Each of the days (and therefore topics on that day) is available for 24 hours only.

BUT:-

Pre-sale Early Bird Pricing – If you would like access to everything (and why not!), then between the dates of 4th to 17th March, you would pay $47 USD. There are 23 presenters and 23 workshops. That is a lot of info for not much money! Bargain…

During the summit itself – March 18th to 23rd 2021 – you can get access to everything for $67 USD.

AFTER the summit itself – March 24th 2021 onwards – You would pay $97 USD

And there is an affiliate link so I will earn a small amount of money if you go for any of the paid versions. You also get to keep the talks and there is a wealth of experience and advice here, all of which will be useful.

So it pays, literally, to get in early, folks! No surprises when I mention my topic is on flash fiction! The link takes you to the summit landing page where you can choose the free or paid for versions. See https://www.creativeu.ca/a/46030/yLSebqrq for more details.

#freesummit #summit #free #shareyourstory #creativity #write #shareyourstory2021

Am so looking forward to being part of this!



Looking forward to sharing news about the international writing summit I’m taking part in soon (from tomorrow onwards so watch this space). See above – I am rather pleased about this! I’m also looking forward to checking out the other topics on offer for this. The range is fantastic but don’t just take my word for it!

In other news, Lady had a fabulous time with her best buddy, a Rhodesian Ridgeback, this morning. You can always tell when a dog is happy when she walks home slowly, tail wagging all the way, gets home, has a drink, and then crashes out, perking up again when she senses my hubby or I are about to have lunch. It is Lady’s role to supervise us having our lunch, of course. We couldn’t possibly eat it all by ourselves.

Plenty of non-fiction work going on at the moment with talks etc., but am getting some flash fiction writing in (and producing the short story videos for Youtube upload on a regular basis helps ensure that too!). I’m starting to get material together for a third collection and that takes time but I am pleased to have made a start on that.

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

As well as the writing summit, which I flagged up yesterday, I’m waving the flag for flash fiction again in mid-March via Zoom to a WI-affiliated group. On 20th March, my interview with #HannahKate for her Hannah’s Bookshelf show on North Manchester FM will be broadcast where again I wave the flag for flash and blogging, (I almost typed flag the wave just then – lovely Spoonerism I think!).

Am also drafting flash fiction pieces though I will up the pace on that work once the summit is over.

I do love the variety of writing and try to ensure I enjoy it all. That’s important. Writing and marketing are hard work but a joy and having that joy helps you keep going when times are tough.

I still have “no hears” on submitting work and I always will but I know now I can always submit that work elsewhere when I can get back to the piece in question. Nothing is wasted in writing. What you can’t re-submit somewhere, you can analyse and see if you can work out why it didn’t get placed or what have you. It does pay to do that. I’ve picked things up on a piece later I didn’t see at the time of submission and you can take what you learn there and use it to help you be more successful with other work.

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The big news, as I mentioned on my author Facebook page, is I’m taking part in an international writing summit from 18th to 23rd March 2021. My topic is Flash Fiction – Why I Love It and Why I Think Every Writer Should Try It!

More details on the summit can be found at https://www.creativeu.ca/a/46030/yLSebqrq

The summit is free but there are paid for options if you would like to be able to access all of the topics or are not sure you can actually be about on the day in question for the relevant presenters to you. Bear in mind there are 23 presenters on 23 wonderfully varied topics so I strongly suspect you would find several of the topics would be of interest!

I will be issuing a bonus newsletter about the summit sometime over the next couple of days and you can sign up to receive this, and future author newsletters from me, at https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com/

Allison Symes (1)

PS.  I never dreamt, when I first started writing seriously many many years ago, I would see things like the poster above. I can’t tell you how many rejections I’ve had in my time. I almost certainly could cover my walls with them had I kept them. So being open to trying new forms of writing – flash fiction in my case – has proved productive. Not giving up and developing stamina to take the setbacks on the chin also does. No short cuts but dreams can sometimes come true. (And no fairy godmother in sight either, which is a tad annoying given I write so many stories about them, but there you go!).


Always delighted to wave the flag for flash fiction and am looking forward to sharing more news on the international writing summit I’m taking part in soon where I do precisely that. (Hope to start sharing from tomorrow onwards so watch this space. There is a wonderful range of authors taking part on a lovely variety of topics so there will be something for everyone – see above and this will almost certainly be my big news for 2021, I think).

One thing I’ve found useful at “live events” such as the railway station signing I had for From Light to Dark and Back Again was it is easy to demonstrate what flash fiction is by reading some out! Entertains the public, it always give me useful practice at effectively “open prose readings”, and I’ve made sales that way too.

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Fairytales with Bite – What Counts as a Bad Week in a Magical World?

Well, what does count as a bad week in a magical world? Is it when every spell you use goes wrong no matter what you do? (See The Sorcerer’s Apprentice for more on this and with fab music too!).

Is it when there is too much magic flying about and the results are questionable to say the least? That wizard who wanted to change an annoying junior into a statue for half an hour to teach them a lesson finds it has backfired when that statue walks off complaining loudly and embarrassing him?

Now for your villains of course a bad week for everyone else would count as a good week for them. Hey, we’re villains, doing what we’re supposed to be doing. So what would they do to cause trouble for everyone else? Does it backfire on them? Does the rest of your society eventually get their revenge here?

And who decides whether it is a bad week anyway? How would your created society decide what was good and what wasn’t?

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This World and Others – What Makes Your Created World Stand Out

What makes your created world stand out so you have to write it into life? What attracts you to it? The good news is here is what attracts you here should attract other readers.

My view is your world has to have enough depth to make you want to write about it. Your characters have to be compelling but so does the setting in which you set them. So think about what would make you want to live in the place you’ve invented? Is it the magical elements? Is it the fantastic scenery free from all pollution etc?

What would a reader find that was special about your setting? What would make them want to read more about how life is lived there?


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New Blogging Spot, Launches in Lockdown – The Finale, and Flash Talking

Image Credit:-

All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated.

Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.

Have had a great time on the blogs this week too. I share below my first post for Authors Electric and am looking forward to writing more for them.

Many thanks to all of my fabulous guests for my CFT series, Launches in Lockdown. Book cover and author pics provided tonight by #AmandaJones (aka Amanda Baber), #GailAldwin, and #Gill James.

And a very familiar sight here… I had better get on and add THIS post!

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Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

Delighted to share the finale of my zeitgeist series, Launches in Lockdown. Many thanks to everyone for taking part. The feedback on this series has been stunning. Thanks, all.

Tonight I chat with #AmandaJones (aka Amanda Baber), #GailAldwin, and #GillJames.

Usually my CFT series are only three parters but there was such a wealth of information to share, I knew I had to expand this. And I could think of many excellent authors I would have loved to have added to this so the series could have been much longer!

In the meantime, I hope you continue to find the series useful and informative. And good luck to all who are launching books this year.

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Facebook – General – and Authors Electric

Am delighted to now be blogging for Authors Electric on the 18th of each month. For my first post, I thought I’d share some of my life changing books. Have you any nominations?

Further to my earlier post about Authors Electric, I couldn’t resist the temptation to nominate some of my favourite and life changing books. So I didn’t! The trick here is limiting it to a few! And that is tough.

A while back for Chandler’s Ford Today, I wrote a post called Desert Island Books where I could take eight and that was also tough. Good fun to write though. Blogging stretches the little old grey cells and makes you think not just about content but how to present that in an entertaining way to readers.

So let’s hear it for the blog! A fabulous invention (and really the modern equivalent of writing a diary or journal I think but with capacity for more. Not many diaries or journals end up published. I’m not including the fictional ones here (I loved the Adrian Mole ones). Blog posts can inspire article ideas which might be published elsewhere. Besides which the blogs themselves are published and can be shared easily with a far wider audience than a private journal).

Talking of CFT, the finale of my series Launches in Lockdown is up on site tomorrow. A massive thank you to all of my guests for this series ranging from Authors Reach, the Association of Christian Writers, Swanwick Writers’ Summer School, Bridge House Publishing, CafeLit and, naturally, Chapeltown Books. Naturally as my flash fiction collections are published by them and appropriately for my post tomorrow, I shall be talking to the creative force behind the last three contributing places – Gill James.

Screenshot_2021-02-19 Authors Electric

If you’re wondering who the handsome stone gentleman is, it is Richard III, picture from Pixabay. Go to my Authors Electric blog and see why he is relevant (after reading the rest of this of course!).

Every so often I will take time out to brain storm. Sometimes I set myself a task such as to brain storm ideas for future story titles. Sometimes I jot down character templates so I have “ready made” people good to go for future stories. Often when I do the latter, one of the characters takes my fancy and I start working out situations where they would shine (for good or for ill) and before I know it I have another flash story drafted.

So brain storming is a great idea! It’s also a fabulous way to use those pockets of time when you don’t have time to write much but you are itching to write something. And if you use a warm up writing exercise before you do your main writing work, well not why not look to brain storm as a form of exercise? It will encourage creative and lateral thinking and that is always a good thing, no matter what your main writing work might be.

(Oh and a good place to start with brain storming is to play a game of Word Association but just write down what you come up with. Links will start forming).

To quote that wonderful detective, Columbo, just one more thing – I’m looking forward to sharing my first blog for Authors Electric tomorrow. (See above!).

 

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The magnificent Columbo as played by the late Peter Falk. Pixabay image.

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

A little later this evening, I shall be recording my flash fiction presentation which will be part of an international writing summit that will be “out” in March. I’m looking forward to sharing links etc when I have them but meantime it is a privilege to speak about a form of writing I am passionate about.

Flash fiction is my big writing love. The impact of the very short form of story writing has impacted me a lot! I hope it continues to do so!

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My two flash collections – and to think I discovered flash fiction by accident!

Many thanks for the great response to my flash fiction and word count tip post yesterday. I guess I can speak from direct experience in saying that the more you write, the more you learn.

Using flash fiction as a warm up writing exercise is something writers in other fields might consider doing to “flex” the old creative muscles. The nice thing of course now is that those writing exercises when suitably polished up and edited could well find a market or competition now that flash has taken off as a genre.

One word of warning though. I have found flash fiction (and indeed blogging) incredibly addictive so once you’re in, you’re in, but that’s not a problem for me!

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When I first started writing flash fiction, I worked to specific word counts, especially the drabble at 100 words. I do still do that but more often these days, I will get the story down, rest it, edit it, and then decide on the word count. Why? Because I have found some tales simply work better with more depth at 200 words, than 100, say, and it is then a case of finding the right market/competition for the 200-worder. And that’s fine.

I have learned not to squeeze something to fit a word count. The story has to be the right length for what it is and not be made to fit something it really doesn’t quite suit. But it has taken me a while to learn how to judge when to leave well alone, I must admit!

Fairytales With Bite – Non-Magical Characters in a Magical World

Do you have any non-magical characters in your magical story worlds? If so, how do they manage? What have they got that perhaps the magical ones need and which helps guarantee survival?

This could be something as simple as the magical ones will lose some or all of their powers if they harm the others (and who is going to want to risk that?). Maybe food has to be grown and produced using normal agricultural techniques and those with magical powers aren’t going to dirty their hands doing that kind of work?!

You could also explore the frictions between the two different groups. Do the non-magicals resent those with powers (or vice versa – maybe the magicals see the others as a waste of space but cannot act against them?).

For me, I would have a lot of sympathy with a non-magical character using the skills and talents they have (and maybe some luck) to end up being the hero/heroine over and above those who are more obviously talented than they are. I think this is one reason I am so fond of Frodo Baggins in The Lord of The Rings. I like the characters who are under-estimated precisely because they don’t have powers.

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This World and Others – Codes

What role do codes play in your stories? I’m thinking of several different kinds of code here:-

Codes of conduct – (what happens when these are breached? You just know someone will breach them!).

Codes used in language – (maybe certain groups use terms which are meaningless to anyone but others from their groups and it would seem like code to those not in the know)

Mathematical codes – (are there machines which need coding? If so what are these, what codes are used, what are these machines used for? And the purpose could be anything from the simple to the sinister).

Codes used for spying – (who is being spied on and why? What encryptions are used in your fictional creation? Who is the spymaster and who do they work for?).

What happens when the codes are breached or broken? Would this threaten the security of your characters and/or their world? How can they overcome that and undo the damage done?

Plenty to think about there!

Twitter Corner

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When Wishes Are Not Granted and Launches in Lockdown 4.

Image Credit:-

All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated.

Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.

And one good question for all writers to answer is given below.

CHARACTERISATION - If you, as writer, are not convinced by the characters, nobody else will be

Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

Am delighted to share the link to Part 4 of Launches in Lockdown for Chandler’s Ford Today. My guests this week are #PaulaReadman, #Dawn Knox, and #AmandaHuggins. They didn’t just launch one book during launchdown – oh no! They launched several! For more on why they chose the launches they did for their books, do see the post.

A huge thanks to everyone who has commented so positively on this series, whether directly on CFT or on my FB timeline. If ever there was a zeitgeist series for me to write, this is it I think.

Final part of this series next week. What has been lovely throughout has been the wealth of ideas and tips shared here. Many thanks to all of my guest authors for that but we all hope this will be a source of encouragement for those wondering how on earth they will hold their launches, given we can’t know when restrictions will be lifted etc. Do see this series as a good place to start for some very useful ideas to start you off!

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Delighted to share a link to another great review for Tripping The Flash Fantastic. This one comes courtesy of Big Al’s Books and Pals, an American book blogger site. Many thanks to Al and I am all for spreading the word about the joys of flash fiction on both sides of the pond!

As ever, I will put out the word for reviews for authors. Remember they don’t have to be long but they all help. And it is the best way I know of supporting other writers. So win-win there, yes?

Looking forward to sharing Part 4 of Launches in Lockdown for CFT tomorrow. All fantastic thoughts and tips throughout this series and Part 4 continues that fine “tradition”. And a huge thanks to everyone for the positive comments on the series so far – I guess those count as reviews!

Do see the link for the full review and once more thanks to Al!

Not convinced by my phone telling me it is 3 degrees out there. Certainly doesn’t feel like it. Still it does encourage a brisk pace when out with the dog. Lady not at all bothered by the cold (and is almost certainly the only member of the immediate family not moaning about it too!).

I’m preparing a couple of presentations at the moment – yes very exciting. Hope to be able to share more news soon. The writing life can be full of stages and there are times when you realise, yes you have just hit another one. I’m at that point now. All good fun!

I mentioned in my Writing Magazine spot (Subscribers’ News this month) that I discovered flash fiction by accident. It is also true that one thing in writing leads to another and it can be great fun finding out where these different steps take you. My short story writing led me to discover the joys of flash and what I’m working on now is as a result of my writing flash and being published in the form. The writing journey is not always a straight line route but it is important you enjoy the trip!

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Do I have favourite flash fiction tales of mine? Hmm… I do know I have more than one! It is like asking me to choose what kind of chocolate I like. There is no way I am going to stick at just picking one!

I am especially fond though of stories with a twist ending and funny tales that make me laugh. The latter often end on a punchline, which in a way is a kind of a twist ending I guess.

I am, I think, most proud of Calling The Doctor, where the mood of the story turns on the last word. See my book trailer for From Light to Dark and Back Again for that.

Having said that, the thing which drives me most as a writer is the wish to keep on improving on what I do. That’s a good thing. It means you’re not resting on your laurels (other green plants to rest on are available though I wouldn’t recommend opting for the holly!).

Also you are striving continually and that means when opportunities come your way, you are more likely to be open to giving them your best shot and who knows where that will take you?

It can be fun finding out though and bear in mind this is from someone who hadn’t even heard of flash fiction when I started out. I certainly didn’t expect to be published in it.

I am going to have news to announce soon which involves flash fiction and I am looking forward to sharing that as soon as I can.

If flash fiction writers had a motto, I guess it would be less is more! We do have to convey a lot in as a few words as possible but that also means we have to make choices from the outset. We have to decide what is relevant for a reader to know. The downside of that is not having the joy of subplots. You do need the longer story forms for that.

But what flash does give you is focus. It is exactly like shining a flashlight on one particular spot and seeing what you can see in that light. Because you can only see so much, the effect is more intense and the impact on a reader more powerful as a result.

Knowing that in advance means you can come up with suitable stories to make the most of powerful impacts. My own favourites are the funny flash tales. A short belly laugh at a tiny tale always goes down well with me. Something of that humour would be lost if it was set within a longer story.

Now I’ve mentioned using various random generators to trigger story ideas. There are some fabulous ones out there – verbs, nouns, adjectives, questions etc. The great thing with all of them is you can set your own parameters such as the number of words you generate. You can choose the first and last letters of the words you want generated in a lot of cases as well so if you like specifics, that is for you!

The ironic thing with having parameters (and this is true for flash fiction as a whole due to its word count maximum) is they can free the writer up to come up with better ideas.

You know you are working with limits so you have to think laterally to make the most of the limits you have. And it does encourage you to cut your wasted words. You want every word to count so you’re not going to leave any in unless it does add something valuable to your story. That alone makes your story stronger and it is a great writing practice to get into and will benefit every form of writing you are involved in.

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Fairytales with Bite – When Wishes Are Not Granted

An interesting line of enquiry to follow for stories set in a magical world is to ask what happens when wishes are not granted.

How does the one making the wish react to that?

Does the fairy godmother, say, have phenomenally good reasons for not granting the wish that perhaps she can’t reveal (at least immediately)?

One good reason here by the way would be to force the person making the wish to find their own way to solve a problem (and it may well be that anger at magical help being turned down might motivate that character to find their own way and learn to manage on their own).

Politics can come into play to a certain extent too. If a fairy godmother was to grant a certain wish, would it land her in trouble with her boss and/or other magical species? If the different species are keeping the peace by agreeing not to use excessive magic, would the fairy godmother’s actions to help your hero/heroine/anti-hero/anti-heroine breach that agreement? What would the consequences of that be?

Interesting story thoughts there!

And don’t forget the possibilities of when wishes are granted that little bit too late.

Now this could lend itself to humour. Do we have an inept fairy on the loose, say? Who reins her in or helps her sort out her timings? Good fun could be had there.

But this would also lend itself to tragedy – for the main character and/or the magical being. Again good stories to be found.

It is worth asking the question “what if” for story planning. Spider diagrams or flowcharts can also be useful in working out what the best ideas. And always write up the one that grabs you the most. It is likely to grab your readers too and you will write the tale up with enthusiasm and that comes through in your writing.

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This World and Others – Working Things Out

How do your characters work things out? Do they rely on their own wit and intelligence? Or are they smart enough to know their own weaknesses and find expert help as and when they need it?

Do they read? Are there libraries (and if so are they like ours?). Do other characters help your “stars” or do they get in the way? And are your characters savvy enough to know that a certain course of action might lead them into conflict with those far more powerful than they are? Can they avoid this? Can they work out better ways of doing things or how to overcome the risk of conflict?

As in real life, some characters will be planners, others will be pantsers. But what if you put your people in situations where they have to act differently from the way they normally would? For example, what if your typical pantser finally finds they do have to plan something out carefully to give them any chance at all of (a) success and (b) survival? How would they handle that? (Initially not well I would expect! But how do they get over that so they do what they have to do?).

As a writer, working things out I find incredibly useful. I like to work things out with regards to my characters first. Who are they? What are their major traits? What are their flaws? Nearly always ideas for stories spring up as a result of answering those questions. It can sometimes show me the mood the story is likely to be too. A pompous character is someone I am likely to put into a funny tale precisely to show them up (and have great fun doing so!).

But there are different ways to work things out for you as the writer and for your characters, It is a question of working out which method would work best for you, this particular character, this particular story.

Happy writing!

Titles,Writing Magazine, Publication News, and Part 3 of Launches in Lockdown (and Lady news update!)

Image Credit:-

All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated.

Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.

A huge thank you to Val Penny and Jen Wilson for their author pics and book cover images for this week’s Chandler’s Ford Today post.

This post title should indicate what kind of week I’ve had – good but busy! Am just hoping the drink in the Pixabay picture below is a nice hot chocolate… I’m not a coffee fan. (I know, I know, writers are supposed to be but there you go).

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Facebook – General and Chandler’s Ford Today

Delighted to share Part 3 of my Launches in Lockdown series on Chandler’s Ford Today. The advice and tips given in this series so far has been top-notch, not to be missed etc., (and the good news is there is more to come!). A huge thank you to #JenWilson and #ValPenny for their contributions this week.

Jen, Val, and I are huge fans of the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School which is where we met and we are all hoping to meet up again there this year after last year’s event sadly had to be cancelled due to You Know What. We are also part of a team there called the Prosecco Queens (anyone fancy a guess at why we went for that name? Anybody? Anybody at all?!).

Last week’s post was from writers from the Association of Christian Writers. Now I mentioned earlier this week one of the joys of reading Writing Magazine is spotting how many of your writing pals you spot in between the covers, so to speak. I have to say it is usually a fairly even split between people I know from Swanwick and people I know from ACW. Keep going, folks!

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Hope Thursday has worked out okay for you. Glad to report Lady is now running again (and is very happy to be doing so, I can tell you). Mind you, it does look like she’s had a mud bath by the time I get her home. Thank goodness for my late mum’s old towels… perfect for dog cleaning duty! Also thanks goodness for an excellent washing machine!

Writing wise, I am looking forward to sharing part 3 of my Launches in Lockdown series for Chandler’s Ford Today. Link up for that tomorrow.

This week I feature two fabulous guests and writing friends I’ve come to know thanks to the marvellous Swanwick Writers’ Summer School. (So not only have I learned from the wonderful courses there, I’ve made fantastic friends and they are the best support any writer can have. Who else but another writer knows the elation when things are going well and you have work out there? Equally who better to sympathise with when rejections are all that seem to appear in your inbox?).

Further news. I had a fab time appearing on Wendy H Jones’ The Writing and Marketing Show last week. I’ll be writing a CFT piece about that and resharing the link once the Launches series has finished so that is my CFT diary full for February!

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One of joys of subscribing to Writing Magazine is opening it up and spotting your writer friends in there. This month it’s my turn! My February edition has just come in and I’m on the Subscribers’ News page, talking about my happy writing accident in discovering the joys of flash fiction writing. Naturally my website and Tripping the Flash Fantastic get a mention! (And It was fab my publishers Chapeltown Books had a good write-up last time).

Also delighted to see another 5 star rating come in for From Light to Dark and Back Again. A good day then!

Lady had her first proper but limited run today and loved it. Her paw is fine. The only thing we could have wished for was better weather but it is supposed to improve as the week goes on.

Looking forward to my first blog appearing on Authors Electric on the 18th. Meanwhile do check the excellent posts out there at https://authorselectric.blogspot.com/

Towards the end of this month is going to be a bit busy as I’ve lined an interview up amongst other things and I’m looking forward to all of that (and to being able to say more about the other things too).

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

I’ve discussed titles before here but it is an important topic and they carry more weight in flash fiction stories than in other types of fiction. Why?

Firstly, the right title will set the mood and tone of the story in and of itself and that will save you on the word count for the tale itself.

Secondly, some websites and competitions do include the title as part of the word count (so always watch for that) so you want the title to do some of the “heavy lifting” for you.

Some other thoughts:-

  • Keep your title short. It makes it more memorable and saves on word count.
  • Impact of title is more important than word count (but that’s true for the story too!).
  • Does your title idea reflect the mood of the story or can it be open to interpretation? I am fond of the latter as it gives so much flexibility but there are times I want to set the mood so I choose an appropriate title accordingly.
  • Alliteration Always An Idea but Don’t Overuse It!
  • Never be afraid to change a title if the one you first came up with isn’t working for you. I find I need a title to work “to” when drafting but have changed it when a better idea comes up.

I’ve had the privilege of judging a flash fiction competition, which was interesting to do, but I was surprised to find some stories didn’t have titles with them. The really important thing to remember about a title is it is your story’s first “advert” to hook the reader in with and you want to make the most of that.

Remember only the Ten Commandments were set in stone so my advice would be to go with a working title and then change it later if you think of better (and that often does happen as you write the story. A better idea will “just come to you”. Note it and then examine it later in the cold light of day to see if it is as good as you thought and/or better than your initial idea. If it is, go for it!).

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I’ve often discussed, especially on my author FB page, the joy of outlining. I find it helpful to outline my characters. Now can you do all of that for a 50 or 100 word piece of flash fiction? Of course you can!

Like the story itself, the outline won’t be a long one, that is all. Less than a short paragraph like this usually does the job nicely – and I then get straight into writing the tale. Prep helps a lot! I’ve found it saves me a lot of time later as the outline has stopped me from going off at a tangent etc. Tangents are fun but are often not relevant to the character or plot so they shouldn’t go in. Everything has to be relevant!

So for a flash fiction outline (and especially for those tales which will be under 500 words), I ask myself a couple of questions.

  • Why do I want to write about this character? (In many ways it is for this character, it is their story I’m telling).
  • What mood is the story going to be? (This does affect the type of character I’m going to produce for the tale. If I want a funny tale, you don’t necessarily need a funny character to service it. What you do want are characters full of their own importance who need taking down a peg or several. That’s where the humour is, not necessarily directly in the character. Often a character who thinks they are funny are not and can often be tragic.).

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Publication News

Many thanks for the great response yesterday to my plug for CafeLit now the list of those appearing in The Best of CafeLit 10 is now known. (And yes this is another crafty way of getting another mention in for CafeLit and the book!). Yes, it does include me – see next post down. Sometimes a date order blog round up goes against you!!

For me the success of any story, regardless of its length, depends on the character(s). If they grip me, I’m reading the rest of the story, book or what you. If they don’t…. Well, life is just too short to perservere with something that just isn’t engaging me.

And that is the continuing challenge for me as a writer. Just how can I make my characters appeal to a reader (and especially one who may well not have come across my work before. There is a certain truth in the saying you only have the one chance to make a first impression and with my stories, I want my characters to hook readers in right from the start. You have got to have that “must find out what happens next” moment and to keep that going until you do reach the end).

One way I try to achieve this is to come up with characters readers can understand. They don’t have to like them but they do have to get where the character is from (and ideally ask themselves if I was this character, would I be doing this? If not, what would I be doing instead? If a reader is asking questions like that from a character, you know what character has intrigued them to keep on reading).

This is where outlining the character helps. And the great thing is you can pick the kind of outline that suits you. I don’t particularly need to know what my character looks like (that can come later) but I do need to know what their major traits are and what their flaws are. Think about what you would want to know from your character if you could interview them “for real” and use that as a basis for a useful outline template you can use over and over again.


Fairytales With Bite – When the Wand Isn’t Enough….

Okay, we’re in a magical world in our stories. How can a wand ever not be enough?

Well, firstly, if a wave of the old wand solves every problem, you haven’t got any stories to write. Where is the conflict in that? Problem A arises. Problem A gets resolved with said wave of magic wand. There’s no character development. And just reading problems being resolved like that will become boring so quickly! Readers want to find out what the characters do and how they react and it takes more than a wave of the magic wand to really show readers what the characters are truly made of. Are they sterling stuff or treacherous rats etc?

Also when everyone has a reasonable amount of magical power, there has to be a way of distinguishing between them (and it helps your readers to tell them apart too).

It is also a reasonable assumption to work on that some species will have more powers than others either by learning or by inheritance or both so what do the weaker species do to ensure they can survive? They’ve got to find ways of beating “their betters” without the use of magic (and that’s when stories can become really interesting. Characters are having to think on their feet here though of course you as the writer have planned this all out!).

So just as writers we shouldn’t rely on magic or coincidences getting our characters out of trouble, the characters themselves need more than the old magic wand waving too.

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This World and Others – What do Characters think of their Environment?

The answer to this question will also tell readers a fair bit about what your characters are like.

Do they care about the environment or are they oblivious to it?

If your created world has different climates and regions, are the characters you’re writing about aware of all of this or is there a certain amount of Here Be Dragons about their attitudes?

Here Be Dragons was something written on old maps where a map maker had literally got to the limits of where they were prepared to go to make their maps so anything unknown had this slogan added to it! They could get away with it because it was highly unlikely anyone was going to challenge them (and I’m sure they worked on the theory, well there could be dragons!). (Never get away with it now due to Google etc!).

How characters treat the world around them is likely to flag up to readers how they are likely to treat other characters. One of my own favourite characters in Losing Myself from Tripping The Flash Fantastic appears to be one who cares much more about the environment and natural world than any other of her own kind. That was an interesting story to write because it made me think deeply about what would make a character be or become that way.

And then there will the opposite – those who do not see or care about the environment around them. How did they get to be that way? And is there a point where they have to change their attitude?

So my lead question here can be a great way into some interesting story ideas.

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Twitter Corner



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An Electric Author and Podcast News

Image Credit:-

All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated.

Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.

Image of Wendy H Jones, podcaster extraordinaire, kindly supplied by her.

Snowy garden image taken by me, Allison Symes, on the rare event of a decent amount of snowfall in Southern England.

And where will your writing and reading take you this week? Some possibilities below!

It's amazing what worlds can be created on paper - image via Pixabay

Facebook – General

Thoroughly enjoyed being quizzed by Wendy H Jones this afternoon for her podcast, The Writing and Marketing Show. We were chatting about writing regular columns, as I do for Chandler’s Ford Today. Plan to share the link tomorrow when the podcast goes out.

Lady was pretty good throughout though she did let out one bark towards the end – our postman was later than normal! And you can’t expect a dog not to woof at a postie… especially one she knows!

Good to see a quick report earlier to say book sales have reached an eight year high. Not too surprised. Books are a wonderful form of escapism, regardless of what format you pick. Hope the upward turn continues. Though I must admit I would love to be able to browse in a bookshop again… it’s funny the things you miss.

My Launches in Lockdown series for Chandler’s Ford Today continues with contributions from authors from the Association of Christian Writers this week. More details later in the week and link up on Friday.

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Wendy H Jones, author and podcaster

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Plenty going on so far this week (yes, I know it’s only Monday!).

Firstly, I now have an About the Author spot on the Authors Electric website. Many thanks to #DebbieBennett for ensuring this ended up in the right place. I use Blogger for a few things I write but I’m not an admin on it so am just used to posting on the posts “bit”.

Having said that, I am looking forward to sharing my first post here on 18th February. It’s also great to see some familiar faces on this site and I am relishing reading more of the posts. (Tip: to make sure you don’t miss any, subscribe to the blog itself. I know it sounds obvious but it is easy to forget to do this. Let’s just say it’s not a mistake I make now! Incidentally because I do blog, I like to keep up to date with what is out there in my field and while it is impossible to keep up with everything, I do follow as well as contribute to blogs. I see both the reading and writing of blogs as vital research).

Secondly, I am being interviewed by Wendy H Jones tomorrow afternoon for her podcast due “out” on Wednesday. I have two sides to my writing life (I know – as if one wasn’t enough but in fairness it often isn’t for writers!), and last time I was on Wendy’s The Writing and Marketing Show I talked about flash fiction. This time I’ll be talking about my blogging work and generating ideas for a weekly column.

I’ve written a weekly column for online magazine, Chandler’s Ford Today, for some time now and one great thing about doing this is it keeps me on my toes. I have to write something every week and to a deadline. I’m looking forward to talking more about this with Wendy and to sharing the link on Wednesday.

And if you pop over to my From Light to Dark and Back Again Facebook page in a moment, I have further news! Phew… I think it is going to be one of those fun but mightily busy weeks!  (See below for this!).

The snow did turn up! The view below is taken by yours truly from my back window and, before you ask, Lady does love the snow. It’s only the second time she has been able to play in some. On the plus side it did mean I didn’t have to take her water bottle out with me today – I knew she’d eat the snow. Is there any dog that doesn’t do that? (I will pretend I am not hearing all of my cat owning friends laughing at this point, given this is an issue they’re unlikely to face!).

News: I’ve been invited to take part in a monthly blog for Authors Electric. Excited about this and looking forward to sharing my first post on the 18th. Brief: blog has to be book/story/writing related in some way. Yes, I tick the boxes there well enough!

I prepare my blogs in advance (trust me, it pays!) and when I can I draft “spares” and save them for those times when I’m away or struck down with the dreaded lurgy (not that one, to date at least, thankfully) so I can just schedule these and that’s all done.

I love scheduling. Aside from Scrivener, it is probably one of the most useful things I’ve finally worked out how to do properly! I sometimes use it for Twitter too and I need to make more use of that. You may have noticed I often put a Twitter Corner spot in my twice weekly blog spot for my website. This is to encourage me to make more use of Twitter and the use of graphics with my tweets makes a nice addition to my blog round-up as well. I like a good balance of text and graphics and it seems to go down well with my followers here (thank you, everyone).

Snow View as at 24th January 2021

Brrr…. a cold one today. No snow where I am in Hampshire though some is forecast tomorrow. We’ll see. (I did – see above! Murphy’s Law is working well – had I not said anything, would there have been the teeniest, weeniest snowflake? Course not!).

At least I’m not going anywhere other than by foot (which in turn is powered by sturdy walking boot with a decent grip!)!

Many thanks for the great response to Part 1 of my Launches in Lockdown series for Chandler’s Ford Today. I learn so much from chatting to other authors and it always a pleasure to interview them here. Hopefully the series will prove to be encouraging to those who are wondering what they should do with their launches this year, given this will still be an issue for some time. Even when normality does return, it is highly unlikely to be “all at once” (and it wouldn’t be a good idea I think even if that did somehow prove possible).

Now on to another favourite topic. Story time! Did you have such a thing at school? I did at primary school (roughly aged 5 to 7 years). It was for about the last 15 or 20 minutes before going home and I found it then a great way to unwind and relax. I still do though my own story time these days tends to be at bedtime!

I much preferred school story time to the free milk we used to get in the third-of-a-pint bottles. I love milk, don’t get me wrong, but the bottles were either left by the radiators and I just can’t stand warm/hot milk or, especially at this time of year, the milk in the bottles had frozen and nobody was going to risk breaking their teeth trying to drink it! Oh and you can imagine what it was like during a hot summer… Funnily enough, I do love yogurt now!

At junior school level (roughly ages 8 to 11), we used to have something called SRA cards where there was a story on one side and questions about the story on the others. These were colour coded and you worked your way through the system. Adored that. (Often used when the English teacher wanted to catch up with marking. Excellent idea all around I think!).

At secondary school level (ages about 11 to 16), if you wanted to read a book, you did it on your own, unless in English Literature, but the school library was a good one so I spent a lot of time in there.

Encouraging people of all ages to read though remains a very good thing indeed. And great storytelling which draws people in is a great way to achieve that. No pressure then! Back off to the writing!

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

One form of flash writing is to base it on the Twitter character count. Gill James has done with this with her 140 x 140 flash fiction collection. I suspect my one-line stories, the type I often use for my videos, would probably count for this though I ought to give it a go “officially” at some point and put these on my Twitter feed. That’s a good thing to put on my To Do List and another way of writing and advertising flash fiction! (Ernest Hemingway with his famous For Sale: One Pair of Baby Shoes would be well under the character count here!).

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One ongoing thing for most writers with books out is to try and get reviews (and please do review, it helps more than you know. Also a one or two line review is absolutely fine – five minutes and you’re done). Anyway, while I was working on this, I discovered something I had not known. It is possible to put videos on your Goodreads Author Profile page.

Now I expect I’m late to the party here (I can hear you going “yeah, yeah, yeah, knew that ages ago”) but I was pleased to discover it. Naturally I’ve added the book trailers for From Light to Dark and Back Again and Tripping the Flash Fantastic to my page. See the link. Worth doing I think if you’ve not done this already.

Screenshot_2021-01-26 Allison Symes

 

Delighted to share another story video with you. Dress Sense shows Red Riding Hood’s attitude to life and the big bad wolf beautifully I think! Fans of quirky tales will like this one. Hope you enjoy.

Dress Sense Video Link

There is no such thing as the perfect character so it is a question of getting the character “perfect” from your, the writer’s, viewpoint. If you need your character to be a pain in the neck, then have you created the perfect example? Do all aspects of that character fit in to create that type?

The “perfect” character then has to be fit for the purpose you’ve created them for. Are they portrayed strongly enough to carry out what you want them to do? The reader has to believe the character is at least capable of behaving the way you’ve set them out to do without there being any “jarring notes” that would make that open to question.

The way the character speaks, even the way they dress, their minor traits etc should all add up to create a composite picture and it should be the one you want to show. Have your characters ever surprised you with what they’ve come up with? Mine have!

It’s a good thing – it shows there is life to them but it can also show you needed to get to know them better before writing for/about them! This is why I now I do spend some time outlining a character as well as their story so I can be sure I know my person really well. It saves time later on in the editing too.

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Goodreads Author Blog – Reading/Writing Guides

Do you find reading and/or writing guides helpful? For reading, I still like the BBC’s Big Read Book of Books compilation of books that made it into their top 100. They produced a series of programmes to discuss the books chosen too and if I remember correctly there was a celebrity who would champion a particular book or author. (Some authors have more than one entry here. I’m not giving away anything major by saying Dickens was amongst these!).

The compilation book is beautifully illustrated, gives you a precis of what each book is about, and details about the author. Lovely book and a good way to fill in gaps in your knowledge and add to your TBR list of course! The latter of course was the whole idea behind the Big Read.

Maybe it is time for an update? I would welcome one. Would much change? We’d still have the classics in there (and rightly so, they’re classics for a reason) but the contemporary novels would change and it would be interesting to compare what would come in now as opposed to when this programme and book first came out in the early 2000s.

For writing guides, I like those which are down to earth and full of practical advice. My favourite here is On Writing by Stephen King but I am also fond of books such as Scrivener for Dummies by Gwen Hernandez. Lots of practical tips and I love the layout too. (You also can’t beat a good index for books like this so let’s hear it for the indexers!).

Naturally I like The Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook and the Mslexia Indie Press Guide. Information all in one place – let’s hear it for the well thought out book! And the good news? There will always be plenty of room on the bookshelves for books like this.

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Twitter Corner

 

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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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