All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated.
Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.
Images of Dawn Knox/The Macaroon and Basilwade Chronicles/The Great War/play photos were all supplied by Dawn Knox. Many thanks to her.
Image of Wendy H Jones kindly supplied for her.
And a big thanks to the organisers of the Facebook Group, Christmas Book Hub, for creating the wonderful bookshop image for their page, which currently features Tripping The Flash Fantastic. Very very happy to give them a shout out!
Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today
I’m delighted to welcome #DawnKnox to Chandler’s Ford Today for the next two weeks as we discuss her writing journey, celebrate her new book, the hilarious The Macaroon Chronicles, and look at her varied career which includes playwriting. Dawn will be sharing her thoughts about writing and also chats about the joys and pitfalls of writing humorous prose.
It is always a great joy to chat to a fellow flash fiction and CafeLit/Bridge House Publishing writer and I’m looking forward to catching up with Dawn and many other colleagues at the BHP celebration event (online) on 5th December.
Will so miss seeing everybody in person but at least Zoom gives us the chance to meet online. And I can’t wait to share Part 2 of Dawn’s fab interview next week.
Brrr…. It’s getting chilly out there not that Lady noticed. She had a fab run with a lovely Saluki/whippet cross this morning. Lovely to see them both having a great time.
Have been having fun with Book Brush again. This is my latest effort.
Really looking forward to sharing Part 1 of my interview with Dawn Knox on Chandler’s Ford Today. Look out for this tomorrow. Dawn is a delight to chat to and I always learn something useful from interviews like this.
No two writers have the same writing journey and I find it endlessly fascinating what has worked for one, what has worked for another and so on.
Dawn will be discussing her latest book, The Macaroon Chronicles, which is hilarious. If you need a cheerful read, do check this out.
Am catching up with some non-fiction reading at the moment. I’m reading London: The Biography by Peter Ackroyd. It’s a hefty tome but a fascinating read and I just love the idea of writing a biography about a city. Interesting approach to take on it.
Whether what I learn from this fab book filters into my writing later on remains to be seen but I do know non-fiction can often spark ideas for story writers. An interesting fact here and there can trigger story ideas so don’t overlook reading non-fiction as part of your overall reading “diet”.
Had the perfect dentist’s appointment today. No. It wasn’t at two-thirty (tooth hurty – veterans of the old gag circuit will easily recognise that one!). I got out with nothing having to be done! So win-win immediately there…
Looking forward to “going” to the Bridge House Celebration event on 5th December. Normally this would be in London but of course it will be a Zoom session only for this year. The event is FREE but you do need to register. See https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/launch-and-celebration-event-tickets-127841763155 for more details. Hope to see you “there”.
These events are always great fun and, if ever there was a year we could all do with some of that, this year is it.
Personally speaking, what is lovely is being able to celebrate The Best of Cafelit 9, where I have two stories published; Mulling It Over, the new Bridge House annual anthology where I have a standard length short story published; Transforming Communities, where I had a 1000 word story published (this was the Waterloo Arts Festival writing competition book); and, of course, Tripping the Flash Fantastic.
Despite everything else going on in 2020, publication wise it has been a good year. And there’s more to come. A little later on the three ebooks from the last three years of the Waterloo Arts Festival will be published in one single paperback. Am looking forward to sharing details about that in due course.
This year has been a good one for professional development too in terms of video making, setting up the Youtube channel, revamping the website, appearing on Chat and Spin Radio, appearing on #WendyHJones’ The Writing and Marketing Show. And Book Brush has been a revelation too.
The flip side? I have so desperately missed meeting up with writer friends in person at Swanwick, Winchester, the Association of Christian Writer events, and the Bridge House/Waterloo Arts Festival celebration days.
Let’s hope for better things for 2021 but I guess if this year has shown anything, for me at least, it has been doing what you can when you can and making the most of things like Zoom.
Oh and keep on writing and submitting of course!
From Light to Dark and Back Again
I enjoy being part of a number of writing groups etc on Facebook. These groups are a lovely way to meet other writers, albeit only online in some cases, and I always learn a lot from them.
I am part of the Christmas Book Hub – see https://www.facebook.com/groups/bookhub/permalink/1003208640189243/ for more.
#PatriciaMOsborne, one of the founders of this, is someone I know from the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School and I’ve had the pleasure of chatting to her for my Chandler’s Ford Today posts in the past too.
Now I mention this for two reasons:-
1. If you want to create a book buying list for Christmas, do start here!
2. There is a wonderful banner for this Facebook page – of books in a Christmassy shop window. The books on this change every so often and my Tripping the Flash Fantastic is on there at the moment.
The artwork for this is wonderful and it is a great pleasure and privilege to see my book on there. A huge thanks to the organisers behind this page on behalf of all of the authors on here. Online things like this are always useful but never more so than now during what has been such a strange year for us all.
And it is a timely reminder to say that do DM the authors on this page, including me, if you would like to know more about buying signed copies of our books.
We would be so pleased to hear from you!
I’ve mentioned my love of mixing up the kind of flash fiction stories I write before. I do think one of the great strengths of flash fiction is because it needs to be character led, you can get to set that character anywhere you want in genre and time period, past, present, and future.
The crucial thing is to have a character who is worthy of being written up! Even if you don’t plan any other writing, I do think giving thought to what your lead character is going to be (or likely to be, I know things can change in the editing), is important.
If you want to write a story about a financially astute character but discover the way you’ve portrayed your lead, they’re more likely to be as astute as a chocolate teapot, then you have an issue (though it could make for a wonderfully funny or tragic piece, depending on how you wanted to “play” it).
But things like that should be a conscious decision by you as the writer. You can’t rely on “happy accidents”. You can rely on some forward planning though!
Many thanks to everyone for the wonderful reviews so far for Tripping the Flash Fantastic. They are much appreciated and I was delighted to see two new ones in today.
Appropriately for a flash fiction collection, I will stress reviews don’t have to be long and they are a great way of supporting authors. (This year we are even more grateful than we usually are for that kind of support. I have missed being able to go to writing events dreadfully. Fingers crossed for next year!).
Do I review books myself? Oh yes. One of the things I love about the writing world in general is there is a lot of give and take and that is only right. All of us know the pains and pleasures of bringing stories/books/articles to life etc. All of us appreciate the support from others but it is good when you can give support back. I like to see it as paying it forward and back.
Fairytales With Bite – Twists and Turns
Fairytales are full of twists and turns, which is another reason to love them. You know, after you’ve read a few (and/or listened to them when you were a kid), that the underdog will somehow come out on top, usually with the aid of a friendly fairy godmother or talking cat or some such thing.
Fairytales are great because you accept that magic is part of the setting and it is a question of finding out who is going to use it, whether they’ll use it to do good or not, whether it backfires etc etc. But you also know the character being helped this way has somehow got to be worthy of it. Fairy godmothers don’t just turn up for anybody!
So when planning your own fairytales/magical realism/fantasy stories, think about what your twists and turns are going to be. Magic is going to be around but don’t overdo it.
I know as a reader I like to see characters who are trying to improve things for themselves, who are being thwarted or held back through no fault of theirs, and then hey presto the fairy godmother turns up. It is also not a bad thing to show the downside of magic.
As with any source of power it can be abused so think about how that might happen in your creations and what your characters could do to overcome this (assuming of course they want to and they’re not the ones abusing the magic! In the case of the latter, I would like to see some sort of “back fire” happen so said characters have to behave in a better way and/or don’t get away with what they’re doing and/or are thwarted by other characters).
Expect the unexpected is a good motto here but as the writer think about how this could play out in your stories. Plan what your twists will be and how they will be executed. What clues will readers have to look back on and think later “I should’ve spotted that”?
And just as life is full of ups and downs, so your stories should be. But the nice thing with stories is you can make them end on a good note! Stories can be arranged!
This World and Others – What Is Normal?
Now there’s a leading question but it is a vital one. Whether your created world is a fantasy one or set here firmly on Earth, you do need to work out what is going to be normal/perceived as normal by your characters. (Readers of course may well think entirely differently!).
So what kind of setting are you using? If here on Earth, will be in an Earth we would recognize? You could of course set up an alternative based on certain aspects of history being changed.
If X happened instead of Y, what would Earth look like as a result? The series The Man In The High Castle was based on that. If you’re using a fantasy setting, what aspects would appeal to readers? Which wouldn’t? Which are necessary to the successful running of that setting?
For your characters themselves, would we recognise their behaviours as normal? If not, why are they different and in their setting, is their behaviour considered oddball or not?
Working out details like this early on can save you a lot of editing and rewriting later on so I think it is worth doing. Even if you don’t want to plan to the “nth” degree, wanting to see where the story and characters take you, I still think it pays to jot down a few basic notes.
Character A is capable of this because…. The setting is this because…. What you jot down here really is an aid for you and I am all for things that help make the writer’s life smoother!