Ups and Downs

Image Credit:  As ever, Pixabay or Pexels supplied the images unless stated otherwise.

Facebook – General

I love the buzz when I’m outlining a story idea and can’t wait to write it out properly. Always a good sign that. I find the same when preparing blog posts. I take the view if I like or dislike a piece, readers will have the same attitude so I make sure I darned well like the thing myself!😊

Am glad I tend to write in the evenings when it is cooler. That is really helping as I don’t cope with the heat well (I know, does anyone?). Lady is doing fine but she prefers the cooler temperatures. (And she is currently snoozing on the sofa – it’s a tough life and all that!).


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It has been a good weekend. I’ve sent back what should be my final edit on Tripping the Flash Fantastic and I now have the fun task of thinking of material for the back cover etc.

I also want to start thinking ahead for a cyberlaunch much later on in the year. If there is one thing I have learned from the one held for From Light to Dark and Back Again, it is that it is never too soon to write and prepare good material for use on such things!

I’m starting to plan out my next short story competition entry and it is one of those where I know I need to have the ending right and then work backwards to the start. This technique works really well for twist ending stories (which this one will be in due course) and it ensures that your twist is reasonable and well thought out. All good fun to do.

I’ll also be looking at Changing Direction as my CFT topic for Friday. I’ll share a bit more about that during the week.

Have a fab writing week and a fun one (I intend to!)! Time flies etc etc.


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Halfway point of the year already. Not that 2020 I think is going to be remembered with any great fondness once it is over. Still pressing on…

What is the most difficult aspect of writing for you?

For me, it’s getting started but once I’m up and going, it’s no holds barred until the finish. This is why I outline my character(s) as well as the story plot line. I’ve found that overcomes the hesitation in getting started scenario. So naturally I’m going to stick with doing this.

What has been the most useful writing tip for you?

For me, it is to always edit on paper rather than on screen. You miss things on screen. Your mind fills in missing words in a way that doesn’t happen with paper.The gaps there are glaringly obvious and hit you between the eyes. Well they do for me anyway!

What is the most enjoyable aspect of writing for you?

For me, it’s having finished a piece of work and sent it off for a market or competition, knowing it is the best I can make it and, therefore, knowing it is in with a good chance.

Hope you’ve had a good start to your writing week.

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The writing life is full of ups and downs, of course. I’ve taken a lot of comfort from the fact that every writer experiences this. It is good to know it isn’t just you. It isn’t just me.

But I don’t know about you but every so often, a good “dollop” of encouragement is called for, so what have I found most helpful here?

This is not a definitive list and please add to it in the comments! What I hope is some of what follows is of use. I know it has been to me over the years.


How you handle them though is up to you! My first reaction on getting them is to grimace and mutter a few naughty words. Later, if I’ve been lucky enough to have feedback, I study that for what I can learn from it.

If there is no feedback and it is a case I simply haven’t heard back from a competition or market (so know the piece is going nowhere fast), I look at the story again. Is there anything I can improve? Are there alternative competitions or markets where it might be worth trying the piece again?

I’ve done this a number of times over the years and have often, though not always, had a story accepted by one market where it had been rejected by another one. So this is always worth bearing in mind and I know I’m not the only writer who has found this.


You will find something to encourage you. And if you want somewhere to start here, I am going to recommend my Chandler’s Ford Today page at as I’ve had the great privilege of interviewing a number of writers and all of the have fascinating and encouraging insights.

Many of them talk about their road to publication and it can be a rocky one at times.


Changing direction and experimenting with different forms of writing is huge fun, often beneficial, and led me into flash fiction.

I’ll be talking more about this in my CFT post on Friday. So don’t feel bad if a change of direction seems the right thing for you to do. There is no one size fits all here.

In the depths of the “down” stage, I’ve found it helpful to recall the up moments. Publication is the obvious one but before that it was things like entering more competitions than I ever had before, getting feedback (and seeing more positive comments) and so on. Don’t discount things like that. They mount up.

I’ve found it helps to know that the ups and downs are normal. Having wonderful supportive writing friends is also a huge encouragement so thank you all. You know who you are!

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

As well as the random question generator, I also use the random phrase type. These are useful for sparking ideas off for themes for stories. Sometimes they can be used as phrases to be planted somewhere in the story itself.

For example, one phrase that came up just now when I looked on this was “Let Her Rip”. Now what could be done with that?

Firstly, it could be used as a title.

Secondly, it could be a catchphrase your main character uses.

Thirdly, you can take the story two ways here. What would happen if your characters DOES “let her rip”? And again what would happen if they can’t? And what do they mean by the phrase anyway? (I’d also like to know why her and not him and yes you could get a story from exploring that idea).

Often it is the getting started on a story that can be problematic. You know you want to write but where to begin? Using the generators is a good way to overcome that. You should find something comes up that sparks your imagination and away you go! Good luck.

At the moment, I’m tending to have a session or two during the week specifically for flash fiction (and I’m often using the wonderful prompts in the Prompts book by Gill James as my story triggers). In the fullness of time, I hope I will get another book out of these.

The rest of the week is for my CFT post, any standard length short stories I’m preparing for competition entry, and my longer term projects. So never short of things to do then!

The lovely thing with flash though,and why I will always return to it regardless of what else I write, is that it is perfect for those writing sessions when I don’t have a lot of time.

For those 10 to 15 minute slots, I can draft a flash story or two (depending on word count length). Those time periods mount up over time and it is how I put From Light to Dark and Back Again together.

It was going back over how much I had written that I realised I had enough material to send to Chapeltown Books and, for me, the icing on the cake here was adding in some extra stories that I knew had not appeared anywhere else.

So never despair of not having enough writing time. Do any of us really ever feel we have enough time? But learning to write to the slots you do have available is a really useful thing to do and will help make you more productive.

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As flash is, if you like, “concentrated” fiction, the emotional impact of it can be huge. The emotional reactions generated cannot be diluted by extra prose because there simply isn’t the room to have that extra prose.

There should be no extra prose whatever fiction you write incidentally. All that goes into the story should be relevant to the tale but with flash, because of the restricted word count, you do have to be more selective when choosing what details HAVE to be included. You haven’t got the room for sub-plots etc.

So how to go about ensuring that emotional impact is as powerful as you’d like it to be?

The best way I know, and this applies to other fiction too, is:-

Your character desperately needs or wants something.

You, being the thoughtful author that you are, stop them from getting that something!

Your character, being well thought out, will strive to overcome those obstacles and has some success until…

You, as ever thoughtful author, put a bigger obstacle in their way OR the character HAS to meet their objective within a certain time span and the clock is ticking…

Feel that tension ratchet up!

And if you feel the tension ratchet up as you write your story, a reader will too on reading it!

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How do I judge when to write a flash fiction story from start to end or to begin with the finishing line and work backwards?

It all depends on the line I’ve come up with. Some are obvious endings to a story, especially the twist ones. Others I could place at either end of the story because they would make a cracking start or a fabulous finish (I hope!).

When I have lines like that, I work out a few ideas and I go for the one that I like best, almost certainly because it makes the most impact on me (and therefore would the most impact on a reader). That usually tells me where my first line should be placed.

I find spider diagrams useful here for helping me to jot out ideas and then work out what could come from those threads.

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Goodreads Author Blog –

Recovering From a Reading Drought

Occasionally I have a reading drought and I am glad it is a rare occurrence. It nearly always happens when I’m over-tired or stressed etc and it just means I can’t face reading anything for a while. I’m just getting over one now (and by something that is definitely not a coincidence, it started a week or so into lockdown here in the UK).

Now this is not the usual me by any means. I DO read all the notices on the fish and chip shop walls (when we’re allowed to go back there) and yes I read the back of the cornflakes packet eons ago!

I’ve learned just to bear with this drought because I know it will pass and it is only temporary. How do I get out of it again?

I turn to humorous prose, which is one of my great loves anyway. It rarely fails to cheer me and, once I’ve started reading again, the lure of books keeps me hooked, which is what I want of course.

I’ve had no problem writing during this lockdown. I do wonder if it is my subsconcious telling me “you can do one creative activity, Madam, but you’re not doing two!”

Any thoughts on how to tell my subsconcious to shut up and leave me alone so I can carry on reading would be welcomed!

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How the very best fairytales start... Image via Pixabay



More Fairytale Advertising continues yesterday’s lighthearted post with more items that could appear in the classified adverts section of any magical magazine.  Items for sale include red boots previously worn by a witch killed by a falling farmhouse (that kind of thing just happens in the magical world) and there are opportunities for building work in Jericho (walls a special requirement).


Using the Proverbs shares why proverbs are a great source of theme and character ideas.  I also use the proverbs for brainstorming sessions every so often.  I usually find ideas for stories spark from a few of them and those are the ones I note down and then write up!  I also feel as there is so much truth in the proverbs, some of that comes across when you use them as story ideas.


My post this week will look at lessons I learned from the recent cyberlaunch of my flash fiction collection, From Light to Dark and Back Again.  More tomorrow.


Another short post so will again put in full here…

My Chandler’s Ford Today post this week will take a look at the lessons I learned from my recent cyber launch of From Light to Dark and Back Again. More on this tomorrow.

Have managed to get more magazine reading done this week so pleased about that.

Says it all - via Pixabay

My debut flash fiction collection from Chapeltown Books



Advice to a Fairytale Star gives five useful ideas for those visiting the fairytale world or who would like to star in it.  Fairytale justice does tend to be on the tough side so following advice such as “be humble” and “help others” really comes into its own here.  The whole point of this is in such a setting, you never know who you are helping (or offending by refusing to help) so be genuine, be a decent soul and the fairytale world will generally help you.  Act arrogantly and it will delight in bringing you down!


I like writing summary posts every so often of tips I find ueful over and over again and tonight’s Favourite Pointers is one of those.   Certain tips, such as always editing on paper and not on screen, I really can’t emphasize the importance of enough.  You always miss things on screen.  I couldn’t tell you how often I’ve done that.  It is only when I edit on paper I can be reasonably certain I will pick up on errors.  And given every industry has its con-men, it does pay to check out that competitions, agents, publishers etc are who they say they are. If in doubt, query with organisations such as the Society of Authors.  They will be glad to give advice on things like this.


Short but sweet post tonight so have put in full here.  (Quick peep ahead to my Chandler’s Ford Today post this week too).

Really tired tonight but managed to do loads of magazine reading so pleased with that (first time in a week too!). My Chandler’s Ford Today post later this week will be taking a look at the lessions I learned from my cyber launch for From Light to Dark and Back Again. Hard to believe a week has gone by already…



The Three Bears.jpg

One of my favourite stories from From Light to Dark and Back Again is Health and Safety and, for once, tells the classic fairytale from Goldilocks’ viewpoint.  Image via Pixabay.  I shared the tale during my cyber launch last week.


Creative writing takes many forms, including blogging. Image via Pixabay.



In Festivals, I ask whether your fictional world would have its own festivals and if so for what?  It is compulsory for people to attend and what happens to those who don’t?  I’m looking forward to going to writing festivals in the summer and also discuss what I like about these.


In How to Tell if Your Character is a Winner, I list five things I think would indicate you’ve written a really strong character.  The chief one for me would be when you find you are thinking a lot about the character outside of the story.  A good character stays with you and clearly has a life of their own!


It’s a great joy to thank the prize winners from my cyber launch for From Light to Dark and Back Again for letting me know they’ve received their prizes.  Glad these have gone down well!  The main prizes were a signed copy of the book, a FLTDBA notebook and pen and some sweets. Runner-up  prizes were everything except the signed copy of the book.  Some wonderful conversations about writing etc developed during the launch, which was huge fun.

Back cover of From Light to Dark and Back Again

Back cover of From Light to Dark and Back Again


Both of my website posts tonight were inspired by my cyber launch of From Light to Dark and Back Again from yesterday.  Had a wonderful time, thanks to all who supported it in any way and also thanks to my publishers, Chapeltown Books and Cafelit, for hosting the event (with me as co-host) and for guiding me through this.  A fun and interesting day and I know I’ve learned from it.  I hope to write about this for a future Chandler’s Ford Today post but in the meantime:-


The Kindle version of From Light to Dark and Back Again is currently on offer at 99 pence (UK).  Many thanks to all who have reviewed so far.


In Celebrations I refer to the launch (naturally!) but I also discuss what kind of celebrations your fictional world would have.  Are there compulsory celebrations everyone must attend on pain of death?  Who organises and pays for celebrations? Is there a literary world in your setting and so do “your authors” have their launches?  Are there celebrations which are banned and how do people find ways round that to keep their traditions going?


Learning asks if your characters keep on doing so (they should – the characters that appeal most are the ones who develop and they must learn from their mistakes, or those they know about, to be able to develop at all).  I also refer to learning a lot from my launch and I hope to write about that later.  I also discuss one great thing about writing – writers have to learn all the time to develop the craft and hopefully improve our chances of being published.


I loved picking music to go with my launch yesterday (all You Tube based).  I am really fond of stories in song and one of my favourite album tracks comes from Dave Edmunds and is a classic example of this.  It is also a great example of a twist in the tale in song. The perspective taken in it is not the usual one!

Two FB posts tonight!  My main post looks at the launch, I talk about my writing prompt challenge and share my thoughts on bringing out a book.  You have got to go into this with your eyes wide open and for the love of writing.  Nothing else will steer you through the rejections and bad reviews etc.

Cyberlaunch Image

A huge thank you to all who supported this and took part in the discussions.  It was great fun and simply would not have been the same without you!  Maybe same time next  year, who knows?!





A very proud moment, one all writers of fiction dream of - holding the first copy of your own book. Image by Adrian Symes.



On 1st April 2017, a long held dream of mine came true.  Chapeltown Books and Cafelit (with me as co-host) launched From Light to Dark and Back Again online.  The event was huge fun and I must say a big thank you to my lovely publishers and to all who came and supported the event.  I shared writing tips, how I got into writing flash fiction at all, and I loved the virtual food and drink aspect to this.  (It’s just as well pixels don’t contain calories!).   I share here the link to the book’s page on Fairytales With Bite where I share interview links and other information, which I hope you enjoy.

What I do know is persistence, learning how to improve your work (by submitting it, getting feedback and reacting to that in the right way), as well as being open to publishing possibilities you might not have initially considered are all key.  I learned a lot from today’s event and hope to write a future Chandler’s Ford Today post about it.  But today was lovely and I am looking forward to sending out the prizes to the winners of my quiz and raffle.  That really is one of the loveliest things about the writing life:  getting to do things like this.  The launch was special for another reason too:  it marked my first ever full day spent as a professional writer!  I usually only get to do this when I go to conferences and so on.  Aside from becoming periodically annoyed when my internet connection slowed down for no obvious reason, the launch went perfectly.

Can I also add, on behalf of all writers, please write reviews, good, bad or indifferent ones but above all honest ones, for Amazon, Goodreads, writing blogs etc?  It really does help. Many thanks.


In When Fairytales Come True, naturally I talk about my launch (my big news for ages!) but I also go on to discuss the importance of persistence, having beta readers have a look at your work and my thoughts on so often hearing the advice not to give up when all that was coming through the door were rejections.  Hope you find my thoughts here of use.  It is easy to think that publishing success won’t ever come to you but that can only happen if you stop writing or refuse to improve on your work where it needs it.


In Cyberlaunch:  From Light to Dark and Back Again by Allison Symes, well no prizes for guessing the topic of conversation BUT I take the chance to publicly thank my publishers and to put the word out for the small independent presses in general.  They do increase the opportunities for writers to get their work out there and improve the variety of what is available in the book market.  But they need support and that is where we come in – as readers and buyers of books.

Cyberlaunch Image


My debut flash fiction collection from Chapeltown Books



The big day is nearly here and I am both nervous and excited about it!  I set up a few writing prompts on this page the other day, one of which was “The dragon was terrified”.  I share here the link to the page as I posted my story on this tonight.  Hope you enjoy it.


One thing all visitors to the magical world should be aware of is that magic can and does go wrong, even in the hands of the most experienced practitioners.  In When Magic Goes Wrong, I share some advice as to what you can do if you are ever unfortunate enough to be facing this.


Journeys is an apt post for tonight as my Chandler’;s Ford Today blog is the second part of my interview with Martin Kyrle who has written about his adventures on the Trans-Siberian Railway.  My writing journey continues tomorrow (1st April 2017) with my first cyber launch of my debut flash fiction collection, From Light to Dark and Back Again.  In the post I look at how your characters travel, do they need magic to assist them or can they manage without it and ask if their journeys and who they meet change their perspectives on life or reinforce them.


Both focus on my interview with Martin Kryle.  His travel book, Jottings from the Trans-Siberian Railway, is very funny and his Kyrle’s Laws are wonderfully humorous and practical.  It was lovely to meet Martin and the book is a great, fun and enlightening read.

Feature Image Part 2 of MK Interview




In Keeping It Real – Dialogue I discuss the need to cut out “real speech”!  A contradiction?  Not really.  In life, we pause, we hesitate, we stumble over our words at times – none of that should appear in your characters’ dialogues.  The idea is that the speech we read is smooth, helps move the story on and there is nothing in it to slow things down.


Lines to Inspire Fear in Your Characters gives some fun examples of things no character would ever want to hear!  For example, just to name two I’ve listed:-


  • What kind of harm could possibly come from a stick with a star at the end of it?

  • Yes, you will have to walk for miles, the food will be awful but you are still going on that quest.


I then discuss looking at what your characters really fear and make them face it.  If you want to increase the tension in your story, that would definitely do it!


My Association of Christian Writers’ piece for the month is called Telling It How It Is.  I share my love of the Psalms for their honesty and passion.  If ever there was a book where writers poured out their souls, this is it!


I will share the main post tomorrow, hopefully, but there is a bonus one up on site tonight.  The extra post is called What is a Cyber Launch?  This is for those new to the idea and came out of a discussion I had at a new local writing group. 


Really ties in with my ACW and CFT bonus posts tonight.


I discuss my writing routines, give some writing prompts and look at why we write.


FLTDBA ACW Bookshop Image

Glad to say From Light to Dark and Back Again is on the ACW Bookshop – screen shot by me.





In a follow-up post to Postcards from the Magical World, More Magical World Missives shares further brief correspondence from fairytale characters.  (Previously undiscovered brief correspondence naturally).  Tonight’s missives come from Puss in Boots, Sleeping Beauty and Six of the Seven Dwarves!


Are Things Where You Still Left Them discusses whether your characters are prone to losing things.  Are your characters well organised or do they leave their belongings all over the place?! What habits (including losing things) aggravate your characters the most?


A busy night on the cyber launch front, more in a moment, so I thought I would write something that was a complete contrast on FB tonight.  And in full:-

You can tell it is is spring in Britain – it is still cold! I keep getting told off by a robin whenever I go into the garden so suspect there may be a nest nearby. It comes to something when I’m whinged at on my own back lawn!

Mabel, bless her, takes no notice of the birds and they ignore her too. I’ve seen blackbirds step aside and carry on digging up worms as Mabel, in her younger years, went off in hot pursuit of a grey squirrel. It was as if the birds knew… (they probably weren’t sorry about the squirrel being seen off the premises in no uncertain terms either!).


Tonight I discuss why I have three websites and summarise them, including this one.  It can be surprising where the writing journey takes you and I never anticipated this but I love writing for all of my sites and I hope something of that shows through.

A very proud moment, one all writers of fiction dream of - holding the first copy of your own book. Image by Adrian Symes.

Notebooks old and new - image via Pixabay. Ideas have to be jotted down somewhere!



In Once Upon A Time…and Other Openings I discuss what I think makes for a great opening to a story or even an article and why I feel once upon a time isn’t strong enough.  I look at starting a piece with dialogue that intrigues, a character that you simply must know more about or a fantastic situation that, again, your reader will want to explore.  The writer’s job is to keep the reader, reading!


I love writing prompts and have used Ernest Hemingway’s six words short story exercise to trigger them in the past.  In Writing Prompts, I share five different scenarios.  Have fun!


I thought I’d share the whole post here as it discusses what books you turn to when life is getting you down etc.  I look for escapism.  What do you choose?  Comments welcome!

What books do you turn to if, say, things are not going well with life in general? For me, I have to read for escapism and the funnier the work the better.

I can see the point of “realistic” fiction which shows life as it is lived, but there is nothing wrong with a book or a story being purely for entertainment.

I suspect this is why genre fiction can still be looked down on. Genre fiction does tend to focus on an entertaining, gripping read and quite rightly too.

Old-fashioned as I am, I like ALL books to entertain, even if, as with non-fiction, you go on to learn something as well.


I am posting regularly on this now and tonight I share some of my early work from Cafelit (including a story which will make you think twice about ever annoying a duck!).  I also share one of my posts from Chandler’s Ford Today where I discuss what flash fiction is and I discuss how I came to write flash fiction at all.


The old fashioned notebook and pen still have major roles to play in interviewing - image via Pixabay

Despite technology, the old notebook and pen still have their uses.  Image via Pixabay.