All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Some images created in Book Brush using Pixabay photos.
Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.
A huge thank you to Helen Matthews for her author photo and book cover images.
It has not been a bad week and I have another story up on Friday Flash Fiction to share further down.
Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today
Am very pleased to welcome domestic noir writer, #HelenMatthews, to Chandler’s Ford Today. This is a lovely case of small world syndrome as I met Helen some time ago when we were both at the Hursley Park Book Fair. I wrote a report on that for CFT too.
Helen and I had tables near to each other at the event and got chatting, as you do. We also met again at the Winchester Writing Festival. And recently we have been in touch again thanks to #writingchat on Twitter!
Helen shares some wonderful insights into her writing life in Part 1 of my interview with her. I love talking to other writers as I find people’s writing journeys endlessly fascinating and I always learn something from what others have found out along their way to publication and so on.
No one writer can know it all and it makes a great deal of sense, as well as being wonderful fun, to learn from each other by having a good old chat whether it is face to face or via an interview like this one. I share Part 2 next Friday. Meanwhile enjoy a good read!
Great news as the July edition of Mom’s Favorite Reads is now out. I’ve written a piece about Patience in Flash Fiction Writing. See Pages 56-58. And I loved the flash fiction stories that came in as a result of my setting the theme of Patience this time. Well done, everyone. Really enjoying writing for this magazine. (Amongst the other wonderful articles in here, there is a fabulous photo feature on mice – do check it out – it’s lovely!).
Halfway through the year then! (Did see some sunshine here today – not a lot but there was some – and Lady got to play with her best buddy, the Rhodesian Ridgeback, so all is well with her world).
Many thanks for the great responses to Genres, my post on More than Writers, the Association of Christian Writers blog spot yesterday.
Look out for Part 1 of my interview with #HelenMatthews this coming Friday, 2nd July, on Chandler’s Ford Today. Every writer’s journey is unique which is why I find chatting with authors in interviews like this endlessly fascinating. Looking forward to sharing the link on Friday. See above!
My author newsletter goes out tomorrow, 1st July. If you would like to sign up for it head over to my website at https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com New subscribers to my newsletter always welcome whenever you join!
Looking forward to my delivery of Tripping the Flash Fantastic due in tomorrow. I ordered these through Hive.co.uk and they will have taken just over a week to get to me. Best thing of all? I can nominate an independent bookshop to receive 10% of my order – I’ve nominated P&G Wells in Winchester (who are the booksellers for the Winchester Writing Festival too).
Incidentally, if you order any of the Bridge House Publishing/CafeLit/Chapeltown books series via the Bridgetown Cafe online bookshop, you can choose who to go to as a link. I do sometimes use Amazon. I also use Hive.co.uk. I will add the books via Hive took about 9 days to reach me which is fine. I really like being able to give a percentage of my costs to an independent bookshop.
Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again
It’s a change of mood this week for me with my latest story on #FridayFlashFiction. When Is Wednesday? Is a poignant character study told from the viewpoint of Rosie. Many thanks to all who have already commented on this story.
Hope you have had a good Thursday. Am pleased to be featured in Mom’s Favorite Reads, naturally talking about flash fiction. Always good to chat about what a wonderful format for writing it is – and it stretches me in so many ways too.
I have to keep coming up with characters (but I love doing that). I have to think of impact on a reader all the time to make the most of the restricted word count so that makes me ensure I show and don’t tell. It also means I have no room for anything irrelevant. I have to find ways of showing you, say, a setting as the character sees it.
A character will not note, for example, the area they live in is poor because they know it is so why get them to say something that is to them self-evident. What you can do is get them to spot that, say, another property in the area has been boarded up and that will imply a great deal. Readers can and will work out the rest.
(With my reading hat on I absolutely love doing that. I don’t want the author to tell me everything. Just leave me the right clues so I can put things together. For me, that is one of the joys of reading).
Halfway through the year already – time for some reflection maybe? Maybe time to readjust plans for the remaining six months of the year maybe? Or will you be ticking things off your list and marching happily on to the next tasks?
Your characters could do those things too. Slice of life stories where characters often do reflect and adjust can work well in flash because you pare things back so all that matters is what matters to the character. Having a restricted word count from the word go makes a useful “frame” for your story.
And if your character is marching on happily, are they right to do so? Do they take others with them in their wake? Is anything or anyone going to get in their way and, if so, how would they overcome it, assuming they do of course?
I love asking what if questions. They are a great way to work out a story structure whether you’re writing to 100 words or 100,000. (Okay, yes you do get to ask and answer a lot more questions in the latter but good what if questions will make you want to find out the answers. That means your readers will want to find out too).
Fairytales With Bite – Twists in the Tale
Fairytales can come as a shock when you first read them. I wasn’t to know when I first heard Cinderella and was feeling somewhat upset at her ill treatment that things were going to work out more than than okay for the girl! And I’ve mentioned before reading The Little Mermaid as Hans Christen Andersen wrote it unnerved me as being one of the first tales I read where there isn’t a traditionally happy ever after ending. (It’s also a fine example to me of an appropriate ending given what preceded it. You can learn a lot as a writer from reading the classic tales. I did here).
I also loved the fact the girl, Gerda, was the hero in The Snow Queen. I remember thinking the boy she set out to rescue, Kay, was a bit of a wet blanket. But I loved the idea of the girl doing the rescuing rather than just being pretty and having to be rescued.
Fairytales have a habit of turning things on their head.
I know now the way I could not do as a young child when I first came upon these tales that it pays to look out for the “bit part” characters. They are often crucial to the outcome of the story. The wizened old man is probably a wizard in disguise. The downtrodden characters are likely to end up being the hero/heroine. And of course I can use that kind of technique in my own stories but planting early on hints that there might be more to the wizened old man than meets the eye.
A well written story of any kind and word count is capable of being re-read many times and a writer looking for how the tale was put together should be able to pick things up to apply to their own writing. Such as where to place the clue that will lead to the twist at the end of the story.
This World and Others – What do you like about magical worlds?
I suppose what I like most about magical worlds is spotting the differences between them and this one. (Not just in the use of magic as that’s a given. Often though magic can be symbolic for something else anyway – it can represent power, energy etc and we can compare the power and energy systems we have here with what we’re reading in the stories).
I also like to look at how the characters interact with each other. Is there a class system as we would understand it? Can characters improve themselves and, if so, how can they do this? Does magic help them or get in the way?
And when every character has magical ability, how is that controlled so they don’t end up destroying each other? Even in a magical world, there has to be some sort of control system which prevents that kind of disaster.
I like to see wrongs being put right (which is why I am so fond of the classic fairytales as that generally does happen – less so in real life unfortunately but then that’s why these stories can be a great comfort).
In a magical world, again, I’m interested in seeing how things are put right as it can’t just be by the wave of a magic wand. Where is the story/dramatic interest in that?
At the end of the story, I like to see the magical world and its characters have improved in some way. All stories pivot on a point of change whether magic is involved or not. In these kinds of tales, it is interesting to see if the magic is part of the change or not. Who resists the change? Who welcomes them?
As ever, it is all about character development for me.
https://t.co/5xqkvPEPUd Am pleased to welcome #HelenMatthews to CFT. This is a fab case of small world syndrome. I met Helen at the Hursley Park Book Fair years ago. Recently we've been in touch via #writingchat! Helen shares great insights into her writing. Part 2 next Friday.— Allison Symes (@AllisonSymes1) July 2, 2021
Do you mix up your reading? I read a variety of short stories, flash, non-fiction, and novels. I vary reading on Kindle with “real” books and magazines (online and print). Reading inspires what we write so I like a “big pool” to fish from for triggering ideas for my tales. pic.twitter.com/VnR8bPTY3Z— ACW (@ACW1971) June 30, 2021
The one how-to-write book I always recommend is On Writing by Stephen King. (It is highly entertaining and full of tips). Is there a how-to-write book you wouldn’t be without? pic.twitter.com/qVJ5wBkBVa— ACW (@ACW1971) July 2, 2021