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

Image Credit:-

All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated.

Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.

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

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

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

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Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

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

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

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

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

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Facebook – General – and Authors Electric

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

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

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

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

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

Screenshot_2021-02-19 Authors Electric

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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This World and Others – Codes

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

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

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

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

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

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

Plenty to think about there!

Twitter Corner

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

Image Credit:-

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

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

Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book Brush - Cafelit 9, Mulling It Over, Transformations

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Other Ways of Being

Gill James’s latest book as at July 2020.

Days Pass like a Shadow Large

An intriguing short story collection from Paula Readman

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Facebook Memory

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

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

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

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

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

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

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

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

Writer’s Hat

I wish to never run out of ideas.

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

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

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

Reader’s Hat

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

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

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

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

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

Three top tips for flash fiction writing:-

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

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

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

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Fairytales With Bite – Codes

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

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

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

This World and Others – Differences

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

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

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

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

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

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

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