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

Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes. It is always great fun to come up with titles for my posts here. All of the above apparently unrelated topics are covered below! Hope you enjoy.BookBrushImage-2022-11-29-20-3957

Facebook – General

It’s my turn once again on More than Writers, the blog spot for the Association of Christian Writers. Aptly, now we are in Advent, I talk about Seasonal Stories. I talk about writing festive flash fiction and also the importance of planning well ahead for writing for the seasonal markets. I also look at what I love to read over the Christmas period.

Hope you enjoy your seasonal writing and reading.

 

Has been a very busy Monday. Am hoping for a less hectic Tuesday!

One nice task today though was to put in my order for my copies of Evergreen, the latest Bridge House Publishing book. More news on this below. I’m going to be picking up my copies at their celebration event in London on Saturday and am so looking forward to that. These events are always great fun. The event will also be celebrating The Best of CafeLit 11 which was out a little earlier this year.

Looking forward also to the Association of Christian Writers Flash Fiction group meeting on Wednesday this week.

And on Thursday, I send out my latest author newsletter.

Writing Tip: If you use the random generators to trigger story ideas, as I often do, make sure you mix up the ones you use. Firstly it’s not so much fun if you just stick to one or two. Secondly, other generators will stretch you. I didn’t think I could get stories out of the random number generator, for example, until I gave it a go.

 

Hope you have had a lovely Sunday. It’s Advent Sunday today and it was lovely to see the Christmas tree up in our church this morning.

Many thanks for the congratulations coming in on my story Never Old – Ever Green and Good To Go (a title which in many ways is my motto!) appearing in the new Bridge House Publishing anthology, Evergreen. Much appreciated, folks. Now you know what the publication news is in the title of this post!

Also thanks for the great response to my two part interview with Jenny Sanders on Chandler’s Ford Today recently.

Am glad to report I have another super author interview coming up this coming Friday, when I get to talk again to Scottish crime writer, Val Penny. Looking forward to sharing that on Friday. The theme will be “seconds” – it’s an interesting tag for this one.

Hope all who are taking part in Flash NANO are having a great time with it – I am. Can hardly believe we’re almost at the end of the month and the prompts.#

 

Am thrilled to say I am back in print again with a short story, Never Old – Ever Green and Good To Go, in the brand new anthology from Bridge House Publishing. This is called Evergreen – an Anthology and I am pleased to be between the covers again with familiar names and new authors. For more details see The Bridgetowncafe Bookshop link.

And well done, everyone, who has a story in here – the buzz of being published never diminishes. Nor should it!

Screenshot 2022-11-27 at 15-12-29 Evergreen eBook Multiple Hobbs-Wyatt Debz James Gill Amazon.co.uk Kindle Store

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

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Many thanks for the views coming in on Judith, my latest YouTube story. It seems my lady with a grudge has some fans!

Don’t forget my author newsletter goes out on Thursday. My monthly newsletter is a great reminder of how quickly the year is flying.

Will be tackling another interesting challenge from Flash NANO later on. Am so pleased with how things have worked out here.

While my stories need further editing and polishing, to have 30 new stories in a month is great. Would I take part in this again? Oh yes.

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28th November 2022 – Second post
Almost forgot to mention my new YouTube tale is now out there. See what you make of Judith – a lady with a grudge against… well I’ll leave you to find out! Hope you enjoy it!

28th November
Have selected the pieces I hope to read from From Light to Dark and Back Again and Tripping the Flash Fantastic for my London trip on Saturday. This is always a fun task!

Am working on a flash piece I hope to enter for a competition (deadline is the end of the year. I will aim to have it sorted and submitted in the next week or two as I always take time off any official deadline to give me time to make sure I haven’t missed anything and still get the story in on good time.

Good rule of thumb to remember here is it is okay for them to be late. It isn’t all right for you to be late! This is probably a hangover from my pre-driving days when I took the same view with buses – and rightly so too!).

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Looking forward to a trip to London on Saturday when I go to the Bridge House Publishing event. Part of the celebrations here include reading stories and I hope to read two or three of my flash pieces here. The nice thing with flash is each story doesn’t take long and I like to mix up story length and mood. Also had fun packing my book bag ready for Saturday (well, I like to be ready for these things!).

Almost at the end of Flash NANO – hard to believe where the time has gone. I’ve got something for each of the challenges set and plenty of editing to do in December but that’s fine.

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Hope you have a good day. Am so pleased to have another publication credit (Never Old – Ever Green and Good To Go is my short story in Evergreen an Anthology published by Bridge House Publishing).

I am making good progress on the Flash NANO challenges – can’t believe the month has almost gone.

And am so looking forward to the Bridge House Publishing celebration event next Saturday. Will be good to see people again. Especially since this event has had to be cancelled due to Covid in the past, it will be so nice to meet up.

I’m getting my next author newsletter ready to go out on 1st December. I share flash information and tips here as well as my news. To sign up head over to the landing page at my website – https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com

Have also spent time today preparing a certain wish list for a certain festive event – books are included – surprise, surprise, not!

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Goodreads Author Blog – ‘Tis The Season To Buy Books!

The 27th November 2022 is Advent Sunday, the day the Church begins the countdown to Christmas. Certainly it is at about this time of year I get present lists up together and books are very much included here! It is a joy to select books for others as well as giving my family a wish list for books I’d like to have.

Okay, you can always tell a book-shaped present for what it is under the Christmas tree but there is joy in spotting those there too!

I like a mixture of books as presents to me. This year I’ve opted for a couple of crime novels and a humorous book which is part of a series I love. Kindle books I tend to get as and when I want them and I often try out authors new to me by downloading their ebooks first. If I really like their work, I will often to go for the next book in paperback.

One thing the pandemic has changed for me is that I haven’t been in to the big shopping centres (and therefore the big bookshops) for a while. I don’t know yet if that will change for this year but I do, whenever possible, support a variety of online retailers, including those who support the independent bookshops. Do look out for those. I also support smaller bookshops when I can. They all have a lovely ambience to them and that’s reason enough to go in and support those!

I hope you have a lovely season buying books and then the great joy of having several to unwrap on Christmas Day!

Screenshot 2022-11-26 at 19-53-57 'Tis The Season To Buy Books!

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

Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes. A huge thank you to Jenny Sanders for supplying author, book, and other pictures for Part 1 of a great interview with her on Chandler’s Ford Today. I also share my latest Author Electric post about autumn and a fun tale (or should that be tail?) which is my latest offering on Friday Flash Fiction. Hope you have had a good week. Have had some nice autumn days here after a right wash-out earlier this week.

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

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

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

Crossing Paths with Jenny Sanders – Part 1

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18th November – 2nd post – Authors Electric

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fairytales with Bite – Stories and Songs

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

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

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

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

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This World and Others – Culture

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

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

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Publication/Submission News and The Flash NANO Challenge


Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes. Weather all over the place so far this week. Busy week with publication and submission news and the Flash NANO challenge continues… am never short of things to do writing wise. And that is the way I like it!

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Facebook – General

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

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

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


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

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

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

Author Interviews coming up on CFT

May be an image of laptop and text that says "It took a while to find my writing style, voice for fiction and non- fiction but now I know what these are, I can play to their strengths."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

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

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


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

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

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

Allison Symes - Flash Fiction Collections


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

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

3 Minute Santas

Goodreads Author Blog – Book Memory Associations

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

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

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

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

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

Screenshot 2022-11-12 at 20-08-03 Book Memory Associations
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Remembering

Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes. It has been a busy week starting with a podcast appearance and ending with a solemn day of remembrance. Hope your week has been a good one. Weather has ranged from stormy to sunshine and sudden rain and back to sunshine again! It is very mild for the time of year too. Writing wise, Flash NANO continues to go well and I will have lots of lovely interviews to share on Chandler’s Ford Today over the next few weeks.

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Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

11th November 2022 – Armistice Day

There could only be one topic for this week’s post on Chandler’s Ford Today and I have called my post Remembering. This is a tribute to the fallen and those who gave up loved ones so we don’t have to and I also look at why remembering is an act of will. It’s a phenomenally important one at that too.

Remembering

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Hope you have had a good day. It’s been a busy week so far but fun. Am looking forward to sharing interviews with some wonderful authors on Chandler’s Ford Today over the next few weeks.

But there could only be one topic for tomorrow’s post – I’ll share the link for Remembering tomorrow. See above.

On the fiction front, you could use the thought of what your characters think important enough to remember as a basis for stories. Why have they chosen to remember what they have and how does that bring them into conflict with others? (And there will be bound to be conflict given people can often remember the same event differently. Characters can do likewise). Also do your characters act on those memories and what are the consequences?

Will be working on the latest Flash NANO prompt shortly. Am so loving these. Got that prompt written up. Am already thinking of future homes for some of these.

9th November 2022 – two posts

FIRST POST

You know you get one of those days where lots is going on – well, today is one of mine. This is the first of two posts from me tonight.

First up, a huge thank you to the lovely #ValPenny for sharing my post about Looking Back at Swanwick 2022 on her website today.

Looking back is an apt topic for me because, not only is my Chandler’s Ford Today post this week about Remembering (linking in with Armistice Day on Friday), today is the seventh anniversary of my mother’s passing. Mum read widely and passed on her love of the written word to me. She did get to see my first short story in print (and my late Dad got to see my first book, From Light to Dark and Back Again, in print – there is a kind of symmetry here).

For the lifelong love of books and stories I’ve inherited from you, thanks Mum!

Screenshot 2022-11-09 at 09-04-41 Looking Back at The Writers’ Summer School at Swanwick 2022 by Allison Symes


9th November 2022

SECOND POST

SECOND post from me tonight and I’d like to say a huge thank you to #WendyHJones for hosting me on her podcast, The Writing and Marketing Show. We discuss Flash NANO, which I’m happily taking part in at the moment. And I always welcome a chance to celebrate the joys of flash fiction writing.

Hope you enjoy the podcast. I loved taking part in this and to my fellow Flash NANO writers, more power to your pens and laptops! I’ll be working on the latest challenge a little later on this evening. Hope all is going well for you.

https://wendyhjones.buzzsprout.com/807761/11656217-flash-nanowrimo

Screenshot 2022-11-10 at 20-07-38 Flash NaNoWriMo - The Writing and Marketing ShowScreenshot 2022-11-10 at 20-07-27 The Writing and Marketing Show

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

My latest tale on Friday Flash Fiction is called In The Blink of an Eye. Hope you enjoy it. Find out if my character’s story about an accident rings true for you as she thinks about what she is going to tell the police officer who has come to see her as a result of said “accident”.

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

Am starting work on some festive flash fiction (Flash NANO has helped here too!) and have an idea as to where it will go in due course. Festive flash is about the only seasonal writing I do and it is great fun. This kind of quirky humorous fiction, I think, works best when kept short so flash is the ideal form for it.

I hope to so some more for Chandler’s Ford Today in due course too. I usually have a pre-Christmas post on this. It’s a nice way to sign off for a Christmas break too. The nice thing here is you can create these at any time and just save them up for the apt time of year. I have done that in the past. Not had the chance this year. Making up for it now though!

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It was a joy to talk to #WendyHJones about Flash NANO for her podcast, The Writing and Marketing Show. I share what Flash NANO is about, look at the joys and challenges of it, and where it differs from the main NaNoWriMo event. Not least of which is hopefully by the end of November I’ll have 30 more flash fiction stories to polish and work on further – more than I would’ve done. I don’t usually write a flash fiction piece a day – I do write a few over the course of a week. And “hon mentions” go to members of the ACW Flash Fiction Group too for telling me about Flash NANO in the first place.

 

Fairytales with Bite – Memories

This is an apt topic given Friday, 11th November will be Armistice Day/Veterans Day. We cherish memories we rightly dare not forget.

In your fictional setting, what would be your community’s collective memories, the things everyone shares? How are these things remembered? Are there rituals people must follow? (I use the word people loosely here!). On an individual level, what memories does your character cherish or go out of their way to try and forget? What does that say about them? And can memories come back to haunt them?

Perspective is important too. People can be at an event and have differing views of what happened when despite being in the same place and the same time.

I once took part in an interesting writing exercise to prove this point. Fellow writers and I had to recall something that had happened after having just been shown the event in question. This was interesting, We recalled a lot of things in common but by no means everything. There were differences too. Yet all of us could’ve sworn we’d remembered “correctly”.

How could that play out for your characters and how would it affect the actions they then take?

Remembering helps us to be grateful for sacrifices made

This World and Others – Remembrance Ceremonies

The Armistice Day ceremonies are always deeply moving. For those of us in the UK this year’s ceremonies will have an added poignancy given one very familiar figure will not be laying the wreath at The Centoaph in London, as Her Late Majesty the Queen had done for so many years.

In your fictional setting, what is “officially” remembered and why? What ceremonies are used to commemorate these events/people? Does everyone join in with these things and, if so, is that by choice? Where it is, what would happen to those who disagree and refuse to take part?

Are there events in your world’s history which nobody remembers because they don’t want to do so? Where this reflects badly on them, what happens when someone uncovers this and exposes it?

Who leads any ceremonies and are these kept simple or is there a lot of pomp and circumstance? What are the traditions leading to the ceremonies being carried out the way they are? Do other countries (or equivalent) in your setting share the same ceremonies?

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Learning From Our Favourite Characters

Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes. Hope you have had a good weekend. This week sees my latest author newsletter go out and my taking part in Flash NANO for the first time. Weather all over the place here though we still have gorgeous autumn colours to enjoy (the photo below was taken by me during my Northumberland holiday only a couple of weeks ago).

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Where does the time go? Mind you, it wasn’t hard to believe it’s November today. I’ve had heavy rain, gales, hail, all sorts here and that was by lunchtime today! Lady got to have a bonus play with her best buddy today so she was well pleased.

Author newsletter went out today. Received my first Flash NANO prompt which I plan to write up later this evening.

I’ll be reviewing Sherlock Holmes and The Mystery of Mallen Hall for Chandler’s Ford Today on Friday. Always a joy to go and watch The Chameleon Theatre Group. Looking forward to going to their pantomime (Pinocchio the Pantomime) in January – oh yes I am!

Oh and big news – I’ve booked my place for The Swanwick Writers’ Summer School, very much being an ”early bird”. If you want to know more about Swanwick, do check their website out.


Screenshot 2022-11-01 at 20-24-19 Swanwick Writers' Summer School

Hope you have had a good start to the week. Lady got to play with her best buddy today, the Rhodesian Ridgeback., so those two went home tired but happy. Went out at the right time too – the heavens opened at lunchtime!

Looking forward to taking part in Flash NANO which starts tomorrow. Good luck to everyone taking part in that and in the NaNoWriMo. Hope you all get plenty written. I’m hoping to write to as many of the prompts as I can with the idea being these might go forward to a future collection of mine.

Separately, don’t forget I send out my author newsletter on the first of the month so do head over to my landing page at https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com if you would like to catch the next one “hot off the presses”, so to speak, given it goes out tomorrow. I often share flash tips etc here.

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Hope you have had a good weekend. Did appreciate the extra hour’s lie-in this morning as clocks went back in the UK. Even the dog welcomed it!

Many thanks for the fabulous comments coming in on The Caterpillar and The Zebra, my latest tale on Friday Flash Fiction.

I’ll be reviewing Sherlock Holmes and The Mystery of Mallen Hall for Chandler’s Ford Today on Friday. It was great to see The Chameleon Theatre Group on stage again.

Also a big thanks for the comments coming in on Learning from Our Favourite Characters, my most recent blog post for More than Writers (the Association of Christian Writers’ blog spot).

Will be pretty busy preparing interview questions for CFT for a couple of lovely authors soon. More details on these interviews nearer the time. Once nice thing about it getting darker sooner in the evenings is that it gives me even more incentive to stay at my desk writing away!

 

It’s my turn on the blog spot for the Association of Christian Writers. For More Than Writers this month, I look at Learning from Our Favourite Characters. For one thing, you can figure out whether you would make the choices they do in the book you’re reading. One of the joys of being a writer is you get to read more too and you can learn so much from what else you read, whether it is contemporary or classic, fiction or non-fiction.

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Received my first Flash NANO prompt and am looking forward to writing that up later. Plan for the month is to write up as many of the prompts as possible. I’ll be worrying about editing in December!

One of the most sensible pieces of writing advice I’ve received (and act on) is to write the story first and worry about editing later. See them as two separate tasks.

That has helped me so much. It means I don’t “hamstring” myself trying to get the first sentence right. I just get the story written and then look at ways to improve it. There always are ways!

Writing Advice

It’s Monday. It’s a darker than normal Monday too – not because of Halloween but because the clocks went back in the UK yesterday! It bucketed down with rain at lunchtime. And it remains Monday. Definitely time for a story on YouTube then. This one, Past Writings, is inspired by a random theme generator and the theme which came up was that of old notebooks. It’s a complete contrast to my zebra video last week (and again a huge thanks for the views coming in on that).

 

I’ve signed up to take part in Flash NANO which begins on 1st November. You receive 30 prompts over 30 days and it is up to you how many stories you write up. If you want to find out more about this head over to Nancy Stohlman’s site at https://nancystohlman.com/flashnano/

Am looking forward to this. Should be fun. And talking of flash fiction, I am glad to say the November issue of Mom’s Favorite Reads is now out and I’m talking about Twists in Flash Fiction this time. Also check out the wonderful stories that came in as a result of my challenge.


One simple thing any reader can do to help a writer is to review their books. Doesn’t need to be a long review. Just needs to be honest and to the point for the book in question. On that note, I’m delighted to have received another five star review for Tripping the Flash Fantastic. See screenshot. Many thanks to #JoyWood.

Also, there is no “use by” date for these things. Yes, they are especially helpful at the time of a book launch but any author will welcome helpful reviews whenever they come in.

This review mentions signed copies of my books. I’m always pleased to sign my books for people. Just get in contact with me via https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com and we can take things from there.

Screenshot 2022-10-29 at 16-31-50 Tripping the Flash Fantastic eBook Symes Allison Amazon.co.uk Kindle Store

Goodreads Author Blog – The ABC of Books Part 2 – N to Z

It’s time for Part 2 of my alphabetical celebration of books.

N = New and old books – read both and have a great reading “diet”.

O = Open up your reading diet to include genres new to you – this is where I’m glad I have many writing friends. I like to read what they bring out. It’s wonderfully entertaining and I’ve got to read books this way I might not otherwise have come across.

P = Paperbacks and the Penguin. Paperbacks are my favourite format and Penguin opened these up for so many – definitely worth celebrating that.

Q = Quirky fiction. Plenty of room for that in the book world – and often it is the quirky books or characters that grab the attention. Who would have thought a trilogy about a brave hobbit would take off?

R = Reading – and across formats as well as genres. Stories can be taken in via the printed word, audio, etc. Enjoy them all.

S = Stories. This is what books give us – yes, even non-fiction. Why? Because in a non-fiction book, the “story” is you finding out something you had not known before on a topic that has grabbed your interest. Or has increased your knowledge on it.

T = Trailers for books. These are great fun and a fabulous way of giving a teaser to a book. I’m all for getting the word about books out there and this is another way to do that.

U = Universes, yes plural. Fabulous books take you into a world of their own (whether it is set here, back in time, or a fantasy planet somewhere). You should lose yourself in a good book!

V = Voice. A good book will show you the author’s voice through their characters and will enthrall you. You’ll look out for more by that writer hopefully too.

W = Words, the powerhouse of books. Books impact you through words, the way the author has put them together, what they get their characters to say and do. The words of characters stay in your memory. Words, and therefore books, are powerful.

X = X marks the spot found in classic pirate fiction such as Treasure Island, and that leads me on to saying (e)xcellence in fiction, especially children’s fiction will encourage a life long love of reading. How do I know? It happened for me!

Y = Young Adult fiction. I am so glad this category exists now. It didn’t really when I was growing up. I did find myself between categories and I’d have loved the YA range. Also a great way to keep people reading and I’m all for that too.

Z = Zestful books – the kind that keep you reading all night. The books that are hard to put down even when you have finished reading them. The very best books of all!

Screenshot 2022-10-29 at 20-39-26 The ABC of Books - Part 2 - N to Z

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Ruth Leigh Interview Part 2 – and Another Zebra Story

Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Many thanks to Ruth Leigh for providing author and book cover photos for the second part of her fabulous interview for Chandler’s Ford Today. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes.
Hope you have had a good week. Not bad here. Went to see The Chameleons’ latest production (more on that next week) and I’ve written another zebra story, this time for Friday Flash Fiction. The writing life can throw up some strange but fun things at times given I never expected to write about zebras at all, yet alone twice in one week.

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Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

Am delighted to welcome back Ruth Leigh to Chandler’s Ford Today for the concluding part of her two-part interview. Having recently released The Continued Times of Isabella M Smugge, Ruth and I discuss marketing, interviewing characters, and look at characters loved and loathed. Hope you enjoy the interview and good luck, Ruth, with your third book.

PART 2 – Ruth Leigh and The Continued Times of Isabella M Smugge

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Posting early today as I’m off to watch The Chameleon Theatre Group perform The Mystery of Mallen Hall later on this evening. Should be good fun. Review to follow in due course. It WAS good fun. Looking forward to writing the review.

And don’t forget the second part of my interview with Ruth Leigh is up on Chandler’s Ford Today tomorrow. As Ruth now launches her third book, The Continued Times of Isabella M Smugge, it is a good time to talk to her about her thoughts on marketing! Link up above (and you’ve got to do a hat salute or something for Ruth who wanted Jane Austen to be name checked. There is always time for that in my universe!).

Talking of which, my author newsletter goes out on the first of each month so if you’d like to sign up for tips, news, story links etc., do head over to the landing page of my website at https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com – you would be most welcome! And many thanks to those who have signed up. Next edition our next week. Having a monthly author newsletter is another way of realising just how quickly time flies!

 

Many thanks to the lovely Val Penny for her shout out to yours truly in her latest blog. See link and screenshot. This conversation came about when Val and I were chatting about marketing a while back.

You do have to like your first book because one thing you can guarantee will come out in interviews etc will be questions about how you got into print. So it is far easier on you if your first book is something you love because you’ll then never mind talking about it (as well as plug the latest one of course).

Nor do you want people wondering why you seemingly won’t talk about your first one. Having said that, you can go on to talk about how your writing has moved on from your first book and that can open up an interesting vein of conversation too).

Screenshot 2022-10-26 at 16-11-58 Drafting a Novel before Submission

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Thrilled to say the “other story” I referred to yesterday (see below) is up on Friday Flash Fiction. Hope you enjoy The Caterpillar and the Zebra. Great fun to write and again this story came from another title idea I brainstormed during a session of the Association of Christian Writers Flash Fiction Group which meets online once a month.

With a title like that, I just had to do something with it and this is the result. I hadn’t expected to write one story about zebras yet alone two (the other is on my YouTube channel). Writing really can take you in unexpected directions at times!

Screenshot 2022-10-28 at 09-38-08 The Caterpillar and the Zebra by Allison Symes

Posting early as off to the local theatre tonight which is always a fabulous experience. I’m hoping my other story which I wrote thanks to coming up with the title via the ACW Flash Fiction Group will be online tomorrow. (It was – see above!). Will keep you posted. This tale also involves animals!

Brainstorming title ideas has led (and continues to lead) to my coming up with stories I would not have thought off in any other way. I don’t usually write about zebras for example! But I’ve found brainstorming title ideas (and they can work for non-fiction too) is a great way to use those pockets of time where you can write something but not a lot. Well worth doing.

If you have a little more time, then one of those titles can be the beginning of a new flash story for you as well. When I have, say, 15 minutes, that’s enough time to look up one of my brainstormed titles, pick one, and then start to work out ideas for it.

 

You can never know for sure which of your flash pieces will really catch people. I’ve been very pleasantly surprised that The Zebra Who Lost Its Stripes has done so well on YouTube. Thank you, everyone.

What matters is writing a story you really care about. I could hear the voice of my little zebra and his gran immediately and knew this would work best in (mainly) dialogue format. Dialogue also has the advantage of giving the story a good pace which was ideal for this one.

But it does boil down to knowing the characters and knowing what it is about them that will appeal to potential readers. You can work out who the Ideal Reader is likely to be then and ensure you are pitching your work to appeal to them.

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Fairytales with Bite – Sources of Power

Where does your fantasy setting get its sources of power? Does it use what we would know as electricity, say, as well as magic? Or is it an all magic environment only? How does the magic develop?

Can characters increase what they have naturally through study? Are they reliant on specific equipment to make their magic work and, if so, who controls the access to that equipment? You can bet someone will! If that equipment has to be bought, how do your characters pay for what they need or are they forced into doing nefarious deeds to get the equipment they need?

How is magic seen in your world – as a source of “green” energy or something darker? If you have non-magical characters, how can they survive in a magical world? What do the magical beings need them for?

Does your world as a whole look to improve and/or increase its sources of power, especially if it if dependent on supplies from somewhere else? The politics (including geopolitics) on our world can help you come up with story ideas for your settings. Where there is power, there is someone who wants to control it. That alone can be a source of story ideas!

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This World and Others – Ten Thoughts on Making a World Realistic

  1. Basic needs are the same everywhere so think about how your world would grow its food, ensure there was enough water etc.
  2. Think about human flaws and virtues – could your “alien“ characters have the same ones? How would these translate in your setting?
  3. Motivations have to be understandable so know why your characters are the way they are. Your world will be realistic with realistically drawn characters in it, no matter how alien they are in appearance etc.
  4. Think power sources (see Fairytales with Bite above). This can include everything from political power to the power needed to be able to grow food, light homes etc. Who runs all of this? Who are they answerable to?
  5. Think geography. Is your setting at odds with a neighbouring world? Are countries within the world at loggerheads with each other and, if so, why?
  6. Think history. What are the major stories your characters know? What are the important turning points in your setting’s history and how do these impact on the stories you want to tell? A world has to have some history behind it. That in turn will feed into politics. All of that will trigger ideas.
  7. Think culture. Is your setting a monoculture or are there several cultures? If the former, how would that be challenged (visitors from other worlds disturbing the peace etc)? If the latter, are there clashes between cultures? What triggers those and does anyone seek to exploit them? (Someone usually does!).
  8. Is magic part of your setting and is your society divided between the haves and the have nots? People understand the tensions that causes – using what we know here and reflecting it into your setting can give readers an instant short cut into your world. They’ll hit the ground running with your story as a result.
  9. Be consistent with rules – if certain characters can’t use magic, you’ll need to show why. There should be advantages as well as disadvantages to that. Magic can cause problems of its own so how does that play out in your setting?
  10. What fears exist in your setting/your characters? Do they, for example, fear monsters because they know they exist? How do characters cope with those fears? Are they expected to not show how they feel? How are the monsters dealt with if they are still an issue? What issues does you world have to deal with?

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Roses, Zebras, and Sherlock Holmes

Special Note:  Before you ask, I haven’t chosen the post’s title using a random generator, honestly! These are all things which have either occurred in my writing life so far this week or are going to before the next post comes out on Friday. Yes, an interesting week! Mind you, if there is a prize for unusual blog post titles, I think this one is in with a shout…

Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes. See above for the kind of week I’m having so far!

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I’m looking forward to chatting again with author Ruth Leigh whose The Continued Times of Isabella M Smugge came out on 22nd October. In this week’s Chandler’s Ford Today post, Ruth and I will be looking at marketing and the characters Ruth loves and loathes amongst other topics. Link up on Friday.

And talking of marketing, may I say a huge thanks for the views on my latest YouTube story, The Zebra Who Lost Its Stripes. It clearly struck a chord!

This story started life as a title idea which came from the Association of Christian Writers Flash Fiction Group meeting I ran last week. I’ve mentioned before about brainstorming titles for writing up into stories later. It means when you have longer at your desk you’ve got something to work on immediately. I do practice what I preach here!


Weather far better today than yesterday but it wasn’t a difficult bar to cross! Lady got to see her best mates today, the lovely Ridgeback and Vizler, so all three dogs well pleased with that.

The Ridgeback’s owner and I were given a bunch of roses on the regular walk back by someone who has these donated as part of a charity collection but this time they had far too many flowers to be able to use so were giving bunches away to people who were walking down their street! We met someone else coming the other way who was also carrying a lovely bunch of roses and who, like us, was smiling broadly at the thought of them!

There is a flash fiction tale in there somewhere, I swear! Talking of which, I chose two of the titles I came up with from last week’s ACW Flash Fiction Group session and written the stories up. I’ll be sharing one of these over on my book page shortly as it is my new YouTube tale. Good fun to do.

And I will be setting the challenge soon for the December issue of Mom’s Favorite Reads. Meanwhile, why not check out the latest fab issue? See link below.


That storm overnight/earlier this morning was quite something. Am so grateful Lady isn’t frightened of thunder and lightning. (She gets annoyed by the louder fireworks rather than becomes frightened of them – again am thankful for that). Week ahead is looking a bit grim – not just weather wise, unfortunately.

I must admit I find writing both a joy to do and therapeutic. There is just something about putting yourself in your character’s shoes and working out how they would act/react that takes me out of myself for a while – and especially with the news being so grim, I find that incredibly helpful.

Many thanks also for the comments coming in on Hope, my latest on Friday Flash Fiction. If you missed it, see the link.

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

Hope today has been okay. Got soaked in two minutes rushing to bring washing in earlier. Hello, autumn, my old friend!

It was fantastic chatting to Ruth Leigh on Chandler’s Ford Today yesterday. Part 2 of her interview will be up next week and we’ll be looking at marketing as part of that. Link up on Friday.

I’m off to The Chameleon Theatre Group next week as well to see their latest production – Sherlock Holmes and The Mystery at Mallen Hall. Sounds fun. Will review in due course. Am looking forward to meeting up with Janet Williams, my lovely CFT editor for this too. Seems like ages since the last “CFT works outing”!

Did I get any ideas from the ACW Flash Fiction Group meeting on Wednesday? Yes and not yet. I’ve got some ideas for titles I’d like to work up into stories and hope to do that soon. Am pressing on with my third book collection as I am nearly there with that and I do want to get that submitted this autumn. And, yes, these things always do take longer than you initially think!

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I mentioned over on my main author page tonight I was delighted to see such a great response to my The Zebra Who Lost Its Stripes story. Am glad you enjoyed it. Brainstorming title ideas for writing up later pays off!

I usually put up a new video on my YouTube channel once a week, unless away or ill, and I got into doing this as I wanted another way to share flash stories.

The idea of doing something visual with them appealed and hence I went to YouTube. I use Book Brush to help me create the videos. All good fun and of course it forms part of my overall marketing as well. New subscribers are always welcome to my channel and you can find this at the link below.

Short videos are easier to share and of course flash is a great form to link into that.

Screenshot 2022-10-25 at 20-56-26 Allison Symes


My latest YouTube flash tale comes from a title I came up with for the Association of Christian Writers’ Flash Fiction Group meeting last week. Hope you enjoy The Zebra Who Lost Its Stripes. Given this has had an amazing reaction (see screenshot above, I was pleasantly stunned!), I make no apology for sharing it twice here! Am so glad it went down well. This is probably the nearest to a children’s story I get.

 

I was talking about titles with the Association of Christian Writers Flash Fiction Group on Wednesday. What you want is something that lures your reader in – to give them an intriguing premise they have to read the story to find out what happens. I will often brainstorm title ideas when I have small pockets of time and I want to write something.

The joy of this is it gives me something to look through and work up into stories later on when I have more time. I will also brainstorm titles for use for non-fiction topics for my blog on Chandler’s Ford Today, my spots on Authors Electric, More than Writers, and Mom’s Favorite Reads.

Titles are your first advert in many ways and I find I have to have one to get myself started on a piece, fiction or otherwise. It can change – and often does given when I’m drafting something other ideas for titles often pop up. I just make a note of these and compare them with my original thought and then go with the one I like best. Sometimes it does mean sticking with the original but at least I then know it is the best one to use for that piece.

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For my flash pieces, I’m looking for a strong central character to “carry” the plot. In some ways here writing can be a bit like acting. You need the right cast to make it work. This is why I need to know my character really well to make sure they’re up to the work!

I interview my characters. I look for traits and what can come from those (including the flip side to them, there always is a flip side). I also like to know something of their tastes (knowing what their sense of humour is can give good indications of their character type funnily enough. Do they like quirky humour? Are they a bit strait-laced etc?).

Often outlining a character throws up ideas for the stories they would work well in so this, for me, is another reason to outline.

Top Tips

Goodreads Author Blog – The ABC of Books Part 1 – A to M

A = Annuals, often treasured for years. Which was your favourite?

B = Back catalogues – I often don’t pick the first book by an author to read so if I like the book I did read, I have a lot of fun catching up with the others!

C = Characters – where would any book be without them and again name your favourites. I have loads.

D = Dialogue in books mirrors real life speech but can’t ape it exactly as there’d be far too many ahs, ums, stutters etc – not easy and boring to read!

E = Entertainment and enrichment – what good books always do whether they’re fiction or non-fiction.

F = Flash fiction – my genre – fun and stretches across genres too as I’ve written crime flash, ghost flash etc.

G = Great writers of the past still inspire today though I am thankful I don’t need to be as descriptive as Dickens had to be for his readers who could not travel to see the places he wrote about (or have the benefit of film/TV to see them).

H = History – fiction and non- fiction – a wonderful category and can inspire all sorts of fictional works.

I = Intellect and Imagination – reading widely doses so much for both of these.

J = Justice – a major factor in the popularity of crime fiction as justice is usually seen to be done here.

K = Kindle – ebooks have transformed reading by giving us another format. It has also given more writers a voice too.

L = Life – in all its forms and several alien ones – can be found across the whole spectrum of book categories.

M = Mysteries – as well as the obvious crime section, there is the paranormal mystery book, the non-fiction books trying to lift the lid on mysteries and so on.

Part 2 next week but I do know books should be celebrated!

Screenshot 2022-10-22 at 21-05-13 The ABC of Books - Part 1 - A to M


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Back Home – A Blog Appearance and Flash Fiction

Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots and holiday photos taken by me, Allison Symes. The week back after a holiday is always a busy one but so far I’ve appeared on a blog and I’ll be running a Flash Fiction group on Zoom soon too. Hit the ground running then, Allison!

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From Seahouses looking across to Beadnell Beach. Weather last week was glorious.

Facebook – General

Good to get back to swimming today. Always a tough one – the first swim after a break.

Posting early today as out this evening. What do you look for in an author interview? I look for information, helpful tips, and something indicating the writer has had their fair share of ups and downs. I don’t know about you but it makes me feel considerably better to know I’m not the only one there!

When I’m on the receiving end of an interview, I look to give tips, share warnings about some of the scams out there which can trip up the unwary writer, and share some of my own ups and downs. It helps to know It is normal for the writing life not to be a straight road.

I’ve learned so much about the writing world from author interviews whether I read them or listen to them on podcasts etc.

Look up author interviews and get a feel for the kind of questions that are asked

Hope you have had a good start to the week. Busy one here. Lady back to enjoying her usual visits to our park (and got to see the lovely Coco yesterday, who is a smashing Labradoodle).

Am pleased to say I am on Gill James’ blog today. I talk about all things CafeLit. Do see link (and many thanks to Gill for hosting me).
Screenshot 2022-10-17 at 13-55-16 Allison Symes talks today about her experince of writing for CafeLit
There is a lot of truth in the saying you need a holiday to get over a holiday! This coming week will be especially busy but it was lovely to get away.

Looking forward to the Association of Christian Writers Flash Group meeting on Wednesday. Always good fun.

Hope to be working on my stories for YouTube and Friday Flash Fiction later on. Now which random generator will I use tonight? Hmm… decisions, decisions – but these are fun ones! And there is a wealth of generators to choose from. You will find one(s) to suit.

I refuse to think about a certain festive event until the end of the month though I will add now if you have a writer in your life, be thankful. We are so easy to buy for. There are always books we want. Pens, notebooks, book-related mugs etc always go down well. So come the end of the month, I will be starting to put my list together! (Oh and the other easy type to buy for are dogs so I shall need to get Lady’s list for a certain person together next month too).

And it will be time to be thinking about festive flash too. I usually write a couple of these. Good fun.

My flash collections are available in Kindle and paperback

Had great time in Northumberland. Good weather for most of the week too. We always do self catering as it is easiest option for dog owners. Would happily stay in our cosy cottage again. Great views over farmland and such a comfy place.

For Chandler’s Ford Today I will be interviewing Ruth Leigh to talk about her new book, The Continuing Times of Isabella M Smugge. Isabella is one of those great unforgettable creations who is funny and moving. Once read, want to read more which is a great sign of fabulous characterisation.

Ruth and I will also be chatting about launches and marketing. Part 1 of the interview is up on Friday.

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Looking forward to the Association of Christian Writers Flash Group meeting on Zoom tomorrow night. The members here live hundreds of miles apart so an in-person gathering is not feasible. Zoom has been (a) a lifeline and (b) made certain things possible and not just for ACW.

Naturally it is good to have a couple of hours to talk flash, have a go at some writing exercises and so on (I have great fun thinking these up by the way!).

Intrigue the reader

It’s Monday and time for another YouTube flash story from me. Transforming Hope is based on a line triggered by a poetry line generator (yes, really!). I adapted the line a little bit to suit my purposes. Hope you enjoy this.

 

When I’m picking flash tales to read at Open Prose Mic Nights, I look for a mixture of moods. I like to mix up funny with more sombre tales as it is a good advert for flash doing that. You can pack a punch with a short piece. You can also make people laugh with a short piece. I love trying to do both.

Life so often is a mixture of light and dark and I think it apt fiction overall reflects that. After all I read to either match my mood or to give me an uplift, depending on how I am feeling so what I write will do this too.

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

I came across some lovely place names while away in Northumberland. Possible inspiration for future character names, I think. I wouldn’t be the only writer to use place or other names for character names. P.G. Wodehouse famously did this for Lord Emsworth, Galahad Threepwood etc. Emsworth is in my home county of Hampshire.

I also use random name generators. I often just go with the Christian name. I don’t always need a surname. I use names to indicate likely social status, if they’re from this world or not, also age. Names make a great indicator and I find them useful in flash for that as they can be a useful shortcut. A name can tell you things and save a lot of description.

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Goodreads Author Blog – Non-Fiction Inspiring Fiction

Non-fiction can inspire fiction. How things are made, for example, can trigger ideas for how things would be made in your fictional settings and the characters who would make them.

Equally reading up on science that interests you or a period of history can trigger ideas for characters. I’ve always found getting a character in my head is a surefire way to spark story ideas.

So having a reasonable general knowledge, fuelled by non-fiction reading, is a useful “pool” to fish in for story ideas. And as ever, the wider you read the bigger your “pool” to fish from.

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Author Voice

Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots and holiday photos from the lovely county of Northumberland were taken by me, Allison Symes. Hope you have had a good week. Better half, the dog, and I have had a great time on our autumn break. The changing colours of autumn have been amazing and the weather great for the time of year (sun for most of the week too).

 

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Back to Kielder Forest today for a massive walk with the dog. Lovely time had by all. Must’ve walked 5 to 6 miles. Loved the changing colours of the trees and ferns. Really lovely. Back home tomorrow but glad for the break away.

Pleased to share Author Voice, my latest post from Chandler’s Ford Today. I look at this topic from the viewpoint of finding my own author voice (it took me a while!) and I share some tips on how I went about doing this. I also ask whether a writer can have multiple author voices and why it pays to find your own. Hope you find it useful.

Author Voice

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Towards the end of our holidays, we usually go back to some favourite locations and we did that today. We went back to Seahouses and walked on the coastal path there to the beach at Beadnell. We must’ve walked three to four miles in total. Lovely time had by all.

Lady loved playing on a field on the way to the beach and on the beach itself. Currently crashed out on her quilt – dreaming happy doggy dreams I trust. (She often gives half woofs when doing that. No sign of that yet though). A big thank you to everyone for commenting on the photos I’ve shared this week – I love my mobile phone camera!

I’m talking about Author Voice for Chandler’s Ford Today – link for that up tomorrow. See above. It took me ages to work out what my author voice was so I hope this post proves to be useful.

Mind you, it helped a lot when I discovered how important it was for me to know who I’m writing about well enough. Developing my love of characterisation helped me find my author voice and the kind of characters I like to write about.

 

Went back to Druridge Bay today and, as well as Lady having a splendid time on the beach, we explored the lakeland/woodland walk which circles the visitor centre there. Wanted to do so on Sunday but there was a cross country run going on. Lady would still have gone on this walk though she would inevitably have tried to herd up the runners so we thought best not!

If Lady could name a favourite place away from her home comforts, Druridge Bay would be it – everything a dog could want – beach play, woodland/lakeland walks, and treats we bring with us, given not everything in the fabulous cafe here would be suitable for dogs. It is suitable for my better half and I though!

I do sometimes write flash tales related to dogs in some way but I prefer to focus on a wide range of characters, who are not necessarily human. This is partly because I recognise not everyone likes dogs so won’t be fans of doggy stories but I also like not to limit myself. I like exploring character thoughts and motivations. That’s not the easiest thing to do with a pet!

Motivation for me makes a story. A character has to want something for a reason good enough for them (we don’t have to agree) and someone else has to have good reason (to them) to stop this. Cause and conflict. For me that’s what a story is all about as I then want to find out how things are resolved. Unlike life, there does have to be a satisfactory resolution to a story.

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No Friday Flash Fiction story from me this time (hope to make up for that next week), but do check out the website as there are fabulous stories here and it is a great advert for what can be done in a mere 100 words.

Writing drabbles, as 100-worders are also known, is a great writing exercise and you learn to condense. Boy, do you learn to condense! But writing to that tight a word count shows you what really matters for your character and what the heart of the story is better than any other writing exercise I know.

 

If there are categories of flash fiction it would be worth practicing in particular, I would name the 50-worder (the dribble), the 100-worder (the drabble), and stories up to 300 words. These are some of the most frequent competition word count requirements I come across. The next one is a word count of up to 500 words.

I have come across competitions which have 750 words as a word count maximum. Often these aren’t listed as flash competitions but they are so do keep an eye out for ones like this too.

It is also a useful idea to have a stock of stories ready for possible submission. Certain topics are all-time favourites. There will always be love stories for example. And a competition coming up is also an opportunity to have another look at stories which haven’t been placed elsewhere to see if you can polish them up for this one, as long as the theme fits or it is an open competition.

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Flash fiction writing has encouraged my development in first person writing, as I’ve mentioned before. The advantages of it are that you do get straight into a character’s head and you do see things through their eyes. The disadvantage is you can only show their thoughts, their viewpoint etc.

I try to ensure I write a mixture of first and third person. I do like being able to take a broader view than that offered via an individual character’s persona. So I have to decide which would be the best approach to use when I’m outlining my character. Some are clearly best suited to a first person portrayal. This is especially true for when I’m writing a monologue.

For other tales, if I know that character has got to interact with others to achieve their objective then it’s obvious I’ve got to go the third person route. But there are stories where I could take either option and it then a question of working out whether my characters would work better alone or with others.

Mind you, if I’ve got a cracking line to give a character, I’m going the third person route so the character has a chance to deliver it!

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Fairytales with Bite – Getting Away From It All

Having had a lovely break in the gorgeous county of Northumberland recently, it led me to wonder where magical characters might decide to go when it’s time to get away from it all.

Fairy Godmother – absolutely doesn’t want to go anywhere near a Palace or other stately home for some considerable time. So would prefer a country break in a secluded cottage. No balls, no dodgy glass slippers, no wondering if your goddaughter has any sense of time at all…

A Witch – Probably heading for a city break. The chances of a farmhouse landing on your head are remote there.

The Big Bad Wolf – Anywhere well away from housing sites and building materials. Is not taking any chances here again.

A Wizard – Anywhere away from Oz and yellow brick roads. Unexpected visitors are not particularly welcome.

Cinderella prior to her marriage – A luxury retreat where there is no housework to be done whatosever.

Snow White prior to her marriage – Anywhere apples can’t be grown. Has had a dodgy experience with an apple. (Would probably find she has gone somewhere where she’ll meet Eve from Adam and Eve fame).

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This World and Others – The Tourist Trade

Tourism is a major part of the UK economy but is there a tourist trade in your fictional world? What form does it take and where is it that people or other species would want to visit and why? Do the usual residents in your setting welcome tourists or resent them?

Tourism of course varies from visiting historical places to walking in the country to going to the theatre (especially Shakespeare productions). What are the historical places in your fictional setting and what are the stories behind them? How would history be different on your alien world than it would be here?

And who are your tourists? Do they come from the same world or other ones? What do they expect to get from their trips? Who organises the trips? Where would people/other beings stay? What would they expect to get from the hospitality industry on the places they’re visiting?

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Out and About in Northumberland

Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots and holiday photos taken by me, Allison Symes. Hope you have had a good weekend. Am making the most of a late autumn break in Northumberland – as is Lady, see below. I think the fresh air and loads of exercise is certainly doing something for her. Sleepy puppy is the obvious caption here I think!

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Went inland and over to the west for our trip out today. Went to the Kielder Forest (Forest Drive end – the whole forest is huge – and went for a lovely walk to a great waterfall. If this doesn’t say “potential for fairy glen” I don’t know what will!).

We then came back to Rothbury where we walked alongside the river taking in the scenery. Lady in her element of course. She loves woodland walks. She loves riverside walks. She loves walks and has done so much for my better half and I in making us get out and about. This is where dogs are good for you.

Writing wise, I look forward to sharing Author Voice, my Chandler’s Ford Today post this week. Link up on Friday. I’ll be chatting to Ruth Leigh, author of the Isabella M Smugge series, on 21st October and looking forward to sharing that too.

And I’ll be starting to put together my November newsletter soon (probably on my return from holiday. If you’d like to sign up for hints, tips, story links etc, do head over to my landing page at https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com – always good to see people following me there!).

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Our adventures today took us from Seahouses to Bamburgh. Wonderful walking, glorious beaches, and fabulous views. A great time had by all. Lady currently crashed out where we are staying.

Looking forward to scribbling out some postcards soon. Great practice in writing to a short word count!
It reminds me that flash fiction has been known as postcard fiction in its time (and understandably too. It makes a good visual clue as to the kind of word count required – literally what you can get on the back of a postcard. Mind you, my handwriting is tiny so I can get quite a bit on one of those!).

Brisk, breezy, and bright at Duridge Bay today. Glorious scenery and plenty of walking done. No way would the beaches be this quiet down south.

Writing tip 2001 or thereabouts: write what you can, where you can, when you can.

Sounds simple but I know I’ve wasted so much time in the past fretting about not having a lot of time in which to write.

Now, if I’ve got five minutes, I’ve got five minutes and I know I can do something with that. Likewise if I’m out and about I’ll use Evernote to jot things down. If I’ve got the laptop, it’s good old Scrivener. And there is always room for the good old notebook and pen. Often tying in with the time factor, if I can’t write a full blog, I’ll write part of it and finish later or draft a shorter flash piece instead.

What matters is I am writing something I know I can use later on.

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Loving the changing colours of the leaves as I head north towards Northumberland. Looking forward to doing plenty of walking – all kitted up with woollies and boots. Lady just goes as she is!😊

Many thanks for the comments coming in on A Quick Sandwich, my latest on Friday Flash Fiction. Will be having a quick sandwich myself on trip up! (Update: before you ask it was shared with Lady!).

Will be looking at Author Voice as a topic for Chandler’s Ford Today. This will tie in nicely with my interview with #RuthLeigh the week after.

Screenshot 2022-10-07 at 08-58-14 A Quick Sandwich by Allison Symes

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As I’m away, there’ll be no YouTube story or Friday Flash Fiction one from me this week. Back to normal on both of those next week I hope. Meanwhile do check out my YouTube channel anyway – new subscribers are always welcome. It is fun to create and share flash fiction tales here. Hope you like them too.
Screenshot 2022-10-11 at 19-47-32 Allison Symes - YouTube

One joy of going to new places is you get further opportunities for people/place watching. For example, today, I was on the beach at Bamburgh and loved looking up at the castle there. I wondered about who might have lived there. I wondered about the people who passed by me on the beach. Will that lead to new flash tales from me? Possibly. (I have in my time been struck by the colour of an item of clothing someone I’ve passed by was wearing and put that in a story!).

But just going somewhere different can help inspire story ideas. I love the idea of just having the possibilities here! The nice thing here is you don’t necessarily have to go very far. It is a bit ironic that my family came from London yet we didn’t visit Kew Gardens until we left the capital. So is there somewhere you’ve always meant to go to which is localish to you? Can changing your location for an odd day out help you inspire story ideas? Worth a go and a break does everyone the world of good.

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Am enjoying catching up with old episodes of Just a Minute while writing as I enjoy my autumn break. I love quizzes and programmes involving word play. I guess it goes with the territory of being a writer. It’s amazing what random topics come up on JAM but then I like random things and words. I will often use the random word generator for story ideas and love working out how to place the generated words in a way which makes sense and moves the plot along.

And it is fun exploring the different types of random generators available. I’ve used a number of them now and have come up with stories which I wouldn’t have written because I wouldn’t have had the inspiration for them in any other way. The random generators make me think outside of my creativity box and that’s no bad thing.

May be an image of text that says "I use random question generators to trigger ideas for topics. DID YOU SMILE Instead of applying a question like this to yourself, apply it to your character. TODAY T What would be the answer? What made them smile? What made them NOT smile?"

While away, I hope to work on various flash-related things. There is a competition at the end of the year I’d like to have a go at and I need to look at some tales not accepted elsewhere to see what I can do to improve thelr chances out there.

Also hope to start work on something for the next Association of Christian Writers Flash Fiction group meeting later in the month.

Having said that, I also plan to have lots of lovely walks with my better half and the dog (and maybe I’ll get some inspiration for stories from what I see over the next few days. Certainly the views I’ve seen so far are stunning).

May be an image of road and text that says "The writing journey is full of twists and turns."

Goodreads Author Blog – READ

Read!

R = Read widely and well – in and out of your genre, why limit your choices?
E = Ebooks, audio books, the good old paperback – love them all!
A = Adult fiction, YA fiction, classics, contemporary – have a good mix.
D = Drag out old favourites, buy new ones, visit your library – have a fabulous reading diet!

Screenshot 2022-10-08 at 19-42-38 Read!

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