Introducing Dawn Knox – The Chronicles Continue.

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 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.

Feature Image - Dawn Knox interview Part 1

The Macaroon Chronicles

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.

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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”.

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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!

Happy writing!

Book Brush - Cafelit 9, Mulling It Over, TransformationsBookBrushImage-2020-11-16-21-040

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!

TTFF in Christmas Book Hub shop windowScreenshot_2020-11-27 Facebook Groups

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.

Screenshot_2020-11-25 Amazon co uk Customer reviews Tripping the Flash Fantastic(1)Screenshot_2020-11-25 Amazon co uk Customer reviews Tripping the Flash Fantastic

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!

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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!

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Brechin/Angus Book Festival – 21st and 22nd November 2020

Image Credit:-

All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated.

Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.

Top Tips image created on Book Brush (who use Pixabay images – I’ve recognised quite a few!).

Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

Delighted to share my latest CFT post – Brechin/Angus Book Festival – Local Author News – Allison Symes. Not perhaps the snappiest of titles I’ve ever come up with but it does do what it says on the tin, to quote the old Ronseal advert!

Very pleased to be in such distinguished company too and given book festivals celebrate stories and books, what is there not to like about that?

Pleased to say I’m “on” for the Sunday from 1.35 for about 20 minutes or so.

Hopefully “see” you there!

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Given I can’t go swimming at the moment, raking up leaves from my oak trees is proving to be a good replacement workout! Lady would love to be out “helping me” but we live on a main road so that’s not possible.

There are advantages to living on a main road by the way. Nobody but nobody parks in front of my house. Even delivery drivers never stop long….

True story: years ago, we were unfortunate enough to be burgled. We were lucky. We got our things back (my engagement ring, things like that) because they caught the thief red-handed literally further down the road from me.

A police officer came to see us after all was sorted out just to make sure we were okay and parked his marked car outside our drive. He and I were chatting when we heard this enormous bang.

Yes! Someone had driven round the corner and somehow had not seen a marked police car and went smack into it.

Would’ve loved to have seen the insurance claim on that one!

Writing wise, I’m looking forward to sharing my CFT post tomorrow about the Brechin/Angus Book Fest. Naturally I’m looking forward to taking part in that over the weekend.

I also hope to have further publication news in the not too distant future.

Favourite thing to write ever? For me it’s those magic words “the end” after I’ve got the first draft down. I then know I’ve got something to work with and that always comes as something of a relief even now after many years of writing.

Oh and a huge thanks for all the views on my Last Request story on Youtube. And a big welcome to all of my subscribers too!😊


How has your Wednesday been? Good I trust.

What made you start writing? I’d always loved stories and loved composition lessons in English where we had to write tales to whatever theme the teacher said. And there my writing remained.

I had in the back of my mind that it might be a nice thing to do one day but I didn’t write seriously until two major landmark events in my life made me realise if I was going to get any writing done, I ought to get on and do some.
My only regret in writing has been not starting sooner.

It takes you longer than you realise to find your voice and discover what form of writing suits you best and this is an ongoing process. As you know, I hadn’t started out by writing flash fiction but that is where I’m published.

What I would advise anyone who is thinking of writing is to go for it.
At best you will discover something that entrances you, keeps your mind active, encourages the development of your imagination, and hopefully you’ll end up published too.

At worst, you’ll discover it’s not for you or that you will only write occasionally for your own pleasure and that’s fine too.

It is important to love writing. It is what helps keep you going when the rejections hit the fan.

Okay, you’re not going to love all of it all of the time but, as long as most of the time, you can’t imagine your life without writing, then you’re on a good path!

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Looking forward to waving the flag for flash fiction at the Brechin/Angus Book Festival over the weekend. I am “on” during Sunday from about 1.35 pm for 20 minutes or so.

See my CFT post at https://chandlersfordtoday.co.uk/brechin-angus-book-festival-local-author-news-allison-symes/ for more details. There is a direct link to the event as part of my post (as well as the first link given above).

Delighted to see that my Last Request very short flash story on Youtube has attracted almost 300 views. A big thank you, everyone. I plan to do more of these. They’re great fun to do and I hope make for an entertaining advert for my writing.

I don’t know about you but I never mind adverts that amuse or entertain me. I can think of several from years ago that I can remember now precisely because they were entertaining and/or amusing.

Flash fiction is, by its nature, ideal for this kind of thing!

Favourite tips for writing flash fiction and which have never let me down:-

  1. Focus on the character. It is their story. What matters to them? What is the problem they’ve got to overcome? What gets in their way? What helps them?
  2. Just get the story down and edit afterwards. My first edit starts by taking my wasted words out – very, actually, and that. I don’t worry that I seem to just write them in the first draft. I know they’re coming out and that bit can wait until I’m ready. What matters initially is just getting that story nailed down.
  3. When you think you’ve edited the story enough (note I say think!), read it out loud. This is easier to do with flash fiction writing I must say but I will pick up on wording I could phrase better when doing this. It is worth doing.

Happy writing!

BookBrushImage-2020-11-18-21-3548


A flash fiction story shines an intense light on one particular moment of change for a character. In a longer short story, that point could well be the start of the story and the tale would be long enough to show other moments of change happening (catalysts happen!).

What that moment of change is depends on the character to an extent. A feisty character is going to take major change more in their stride than someone who isn’t and therefore for the latter that change is more dramatic.

Ultimately, for me, any story is about how the character handles the situation they find themselves in. If your character, say, shows great courage, there should be some inkling that they are capable of it earlier in the story. In flash fiction, that inkling will be the odd seemingly throw away line which, on a second read of the story, proves to be pivotal.

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Fairytales With Bite – Be Wary!

If you’re a resident of a magical world, what should you be wary of? Plenty!

The little old lady/gent who looks harmless. Note I said looks there! They’re usually a witch or wizard in disguise and are anything but harmless.

Dragons, vampires, monsters of all kinds turning up. You live in a magical world. You get used to it.

Being unkind to the youngest son or daughter or a stepdaughter in particular. Things usually dramatically improve for them. Your fortunes on the other hand will sink completely the moment theirs shows any signs of that improvement.

Spells going wrong. Trick here is not to get in the way of any apprentices to wizards (who are usually looking to get out of doing cleaning the boring manual way) or trainee fairies. They are bound to make mistakes. You just don’t want to be on the receiving end.

Animals. Some of them talk. Some of them weren’t animals to begin with. If you’re invited to kiss a frog by said frog, think about what you might be letting yourself in for (it’s not giving birth to tadpoles by the way).

Any notices that invite you to “eat me” or “drink me”. Any truly good food and drink has no need to advertise itself in that way. Any food and drink that does… well there has to be a catch and you don’t want to be the one caught out by them.

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This World and Others – Settings Used as Characters

Yes, it is possible to use a setting as a character. Think about Wuthering Heights. The moors there play a pivotal role as does The Cobb in Lyme Regis in Jane Austen’s Persuasion.

So how can you use a setting as a character?

It has to be distinctive. The story can’t happen anywhere else. It has to happen in the setting you’ve created.

It can be a threat to your characters. Think The Lord of the Rings or Narnia. Mordor and Narnia where it is always winter but never Christmas are not exactly fun places to be!

It has a mood of its own. Think moors and you generally think of damp, foggy places where people can easily get lost or injure themselves. Can the weather change quickly? Do you have to be a local to understand the mood of the setting and avoid its traps? Also can the setting in and of itself affect the mood of your characters?

It has to have some sort of input to the conclusion of your story. You can’t have The Lord of the Rings without Mordor being faced up to at some point.
What makes your setting unique? Why have you chosen it? What aspects do you want to bring into your story?

Plenty to think about there but, just as I outline a character, I think it pays to outline your setting too. Work out how you will use it to add depth to your story. Ask yourself what you want your readers to “see” and “feel” as they read your story and absorb the setting you’ve put it in.

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Twitter Corner

Looking forward to sharing this post tomorrow. I’ll be talking about the Brechin/Angus Book Fest which I’m taking part in over the weekend. pic.twitter.com/bJMGojgwlQ— Allison Symes (@AllisonSymes1) November 19, 2020

Brechin/Angus Book Festival – Local Author News – Allison Symes https://t.co/gXqFRomCag Delighted to share my CFT post. Not the snappiest of titles I’ve ever invented but it does do what it says on the tin! I’m “on” for the Sunday from 1.35 for about 20 minutes. “See” you there! pic.twitter.com/1usdNYZNwZ— Allison Symes (@AllisonSymes1) November 20, 2020

Introducing Elizabeth Hurst – History, Romance, Ghosts, and Strong Female Characters

Image Credit:-

All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated.

Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.

Images of Elizabeth Hurst and her book covers for Siren Spirit and A Friend In Need were kindly supplied by Elizabeth Hurst.

Images of me signing Tripping The Flash Fantastic were taken by Adrian Symes.

Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

I’m delighted to welcome fellow Swanwicker, Elizabeth Hurst, to Chandler’s Ford Today this week.

Feature Image - Introducing Elizabeth Hurst

We discuss her Lost Souls series and her love of history. Her stories take history and combine it with romance, ghosts, and strong female characters. Plenty to keep the pages turning there I think!

(And I have a soft spot for cross-genre stories. They work so well – and it never did the Harry Potter series any harm now, did it?).

Elizabeth also discusses the challenges she faces in writing her stories, including the issue of research, and how she came into writing late.

This is one thing I adore about the writing world. Age is no barrier (and nor should it ever be. Also think about Mary Wesley who broke through with The Camomile Lawn very late in life).

Siren Spirit by Liz Hurst

Elizabeth also shares her three top tips and what she loves about the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School. Both of us are very much hoping to be back there in August 2021.

It was a joy to chat with Elizabeth. I always learn something useful from every author I interview for CFT and it reminds me of what a big writing world it is out there.

It also reminds me of what a supportive world it is and that is so encouraging to us all I think.

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How would you describe good writing? For me, good writing is material that moves me and makes me feel something (usually sympathy for the character in the story I’ve read or glee they’ve got their comeuppance – there is no middle ground with me here!).

I love witty turns of phrase and relish, in humorous prose, those lovely “in-gags” which are a delight to “get” but which do not spoil the story if you don’t get the other meaning. Terry Pratchett and P.G. Wodehouse both excelled at these as well as the more obvious “in your face” humour.

Good writing leaves you with a feeling you are glad to have read it. For fab books, it is a case of putting said book down with reluctance when duty calls. (In some cases, duty has been known to yell at me to put the book down and get on with what I’m supposed to be doing).

Am posting early tonight as I’ll be “going” to a couple of Zoom events this evening. One is a book launch and the other is a Bookbrush seminar. Looking forward to both. And am looking forward to a lovely Zoom chat with writer pals tomorrow night too. I might not be going out anywhere much right now (unless it is with the dog) but the diary still gets full – with good things and I do consider myself blessed for that.

Hope to continue with good progress on my non-fiction project after the Zoom sessions. Happy with how it is going but plenty still to do. But then writing is a marathon and not a sprint so that’s okay. It is a question of pacing yourself.

Happy writing!

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11th November – Remembrance

 

Many thanks, everyone, for the great response to my post yesterday about TTFF being on Barnes and Noble. I like nice surprises like that!

For Chandler’s Ford Today this week, I will be interviewing #ElizabethHurst, author of the Lost Souls series. Link up on Friday.

Looking forward to sharing that as she shares some wonderful insights into what drew her into writing romance with history – and with a twist too. Let’s just say there’s plenty to keep the pages turning but more in the post on Friday.

Other items on the horizon are the Brechin/Angus Book Festival taking place online on 21st and 22nd November. Looking forward to being part of that. Naturally there will be a CFT post about it!

Very happy with progress on my non-fiction project. Is coming along nicely. My goal for the end of November is to have a first draft down though I know it is going to need several good edits before I even think of submitting it anywhere. But that’s fine. Am enjoying the challenge of writing something different to what I usually do too.

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Flash fiction has an advantage for writers whose main work is elsewhere. How come?

Simply because a flash fiction story makes a good warm-up writing exercise and, with good editing and polishing, those pieces could find a home somewhere. And that is a great way to build up a track record of publication credits.

Just a thought… never waste a writing exercise again!

I also think writing flash can help with producing a blurb and synopsis. After all, anything over 500 words is lengthy to me (!) but most blurbs etc do have to be under that.

It also helps to work with what the ending is and then put in the most relevant things that lead to this point. Of course deciding what the most relevant things are can be the problem (!) but flash writing makes you focus and it is that focus you want for this kind of writing too.

And if time is tight, as it so often is, drafting a flash story or even a flash article (yes, there is flash non-fiction now), you are still getting writing done.

You can expand on this or not, as you choose, later on, but you will at least have something to work with. As has been said, it’s impossible to edit a blank page.

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Hope you enjoyed The Best Laid Plans yesterday. This is a good example of taking a well known phrase and writing to its theme. I don’t often write all dialogue stories though they can be fun to do. Generally I do need to put in a little bit of “action” which is not speech for most of what I do.

But it is an interesting technique to try as it means you have to get your characters showing you the story. What they actually say also has to be what you would expect characters to say in “real” conversation so absolutely no author speak. No sense of the author pulling the strings either.

A good test for whether dialogue works is to read it out loud. If you stumble over it, a reader will. Also you can literally listen to how your dialogue sounds.

Does it sound natural to your own ears? Recording it and playing it back can also help enormously here.

Ask yourself always if the story situation was real, would your characters really speak in the way you’ve depicted? You want a firm “yes” for that one!

Stories have to read naturally so the characters have to act and speak naturally. (The only over the top characters I can think of that work are Mr Toad from Wind In The Willows and Cruella de Ville in The 101 Dalmatians. That’s because both of these are set up as OTT characters early on so readers know what to expect).

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Hope your Wednesday has been okay. Time for a story I think. This is one of my all dialogue ones. I find these work best when kept short and I prefer the 100 mark or under for these. Hope you enjoy.

THE BEST LAID PLANS

‘I never forget a face, sunshine. I wish I could make an exception for you. You never liked soap and water.’
‘Where has keeping squeaky clean got you, Mister? I know where the money is. Give me the key and I’ll reveal what you want to know. Then you need never see me again. That suits us both.’
‘The key is in Maisie.’
‘What?’
‘My spaniel ate the key this morning. See you this time tomorrow.’

Allison Symes – 11th November 2020

Fairytales With Bite – The Biter Bit

This is a common theme in classic fairytales. The villains getting their comeuppance has always been one of the most satisfying aspects to fairytales with me. Even as a kid, I knew the world was far from fair. In the pages of a book, it can be fair! And I loved (and still love) that.

What interests me far more now is understanding where both the villain and the hero come from. I’ve got to understand their motivations, even if I don’t agree with them. I’m always torn when there’s a villain I can understand but the hero is priggish. Who should I support there?!

So for the biter bit to work effectively, you need to show why the villain should have their comeuppance at all. The comeuppance should be in proportion too. There has to be a sense of fairness about it.

I dislike over the top reactions in life, yet alone in fiction, and readers see right through it. You run the risk of turning your story into melodrama. For me, stories work best when they keep to the point.

A good tip for this kind of story is to work out what the ending is first. Write that wonderful comeuppance scene and then work out what would have led to it. There will almost certainly be more than one possible starting point but in working out different possibilities, you can more easily spot the strongest one and go for that.

The lovely thing with biter bit stories is both the biter and the one biting back have to be strong characters. They’ve got to draw your reader in so they will be anxious to find out what happens.

So think about how you can show the best and worst sides of both of them. Give your readers dilemmas here. They know they should support the hero but they can understand the villain… On the other hand the villain did this, this, and this so they really should be brought down.

And humour is a possibility here too. The biter bit works well for characters who are pompous who need bringing down several pegs or so.

Above all, have fun with what you write here. It should be fun!

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This World and Others – Identification

How do your characters see themselves? Are they right to do so or are they fooling themselves? What does identify mean to them? Are names used as we do or are your characters identified another way? Is there such a thing as fingerprints?

Identification ties in closely with class/social status so how does that work in your world?

No matter how strange your world or how odd your characters look, sound etc., there has to be something about all of this that readers can identify with. Certain struggles are the same no matter what the universe. Beings need to eat, drink, find shelter etc., so how is all of that done?

And the possibility of conflict, the driving force of stories, is always there. Envy is not just confined to human beings!

And then there’s ambition. We know it can make people do all kinds of things. This can be true for your fictional world too so how does this manifest itself?

What would your characters do to defend their identification and how they are seen by others? How does your fictional government identify its citizens?

What do you want your readers to see?

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Board and Card Games and a Trip Down Memory Lane

Image Credit: All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated.

Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Images of me signing copies of Tripping the Flash Fantastic taken by Adrian Symes.

 

Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

It’s time for a trip down Memory Lane with my Chandler’s Ford Today post this week.

I look at board and card games. Which were your favourites? Were there any you loathed? I share a few thoughts on why I think playing games like this are good for you and not just at Christmas and holiday time.

No surprises here when I say I’ve always been fond of the word games! But I have added to my vocabulary since playing Scrabble and games like it and for a writer, when is that ever a bad thing? Now I just need to find a way of working the word “Xi” into a story of mine!!

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Thrilled at another wonderful review for Tripping The Flash Fantastic. Many thanks to all who have reviewed so far.

I know it means so much to writers to have feedback like this and it helps more than might at first appear. So if you’re thinking of writing a review for a book you’ve loved, please do!

Moving on, so to speak, I hope those of us with pets are managing to find ways of helping them cope with what is, for them, a stressful time with regard to fireworks etc. Am currently listening to Classic FM Pet Sounds and enjoying it. Lady is curled up on the sofa and is at least relaxed which is probably the best to hope for.

I appreciate this year is going to be worse as there are no organised displays etc but I must admit I do wish there would be a switchover to using silent fireworks. All the colours, all the fun, none of the noise that is so distressing to animals. Win-win. The sooner they are used by everyone the better.

Screenshot_2020-11-05 Amazon co uk Customer reviews Tripping the Flash Fantastic
Trip down Memory Lane for my Chandler’s Ford Today this week. I’ll be talking about board and card games. Naturally I have a fondness for the word based board games! More on Friday.

Many thanks for the great response to my new story on Facebook flagging up my Youtube channel.

Am making good progress on my non-fiction project and looking forward to getting back on with tonight’s stint on that shortly.

Am also preparing some fab interviews to come on Chandler’s Ford Today for later this month so plenty going on. Looking forward to sharing these later in the month.

Also looking forward to taking part in the #BrechinBookFest later in November and will be writing about that for CFT just ahead of the event.

And don’t forget it you would like a signed copy of From Light to Dark and Back Again and/or Tripping the Flash Fantastic, do just DM me and we’ll take things from there.

Reviews, as ever, would always be most welcome. They help authors a lot and don’t need to be long. (Am so glad Lady can’t give a review. She looks distinctly unimpressed below!).

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From Light to Dark and Back Again

Do you have any favourite story themes? Mine fall into the following categories:-

1. Underdog winning through.

2. Injustice rectified. (Very close links to 1 usually).

3. Hidden pasts, usually magical, and kept hidden because the secret keeper has moved to another world, usually this one.

4. People trying to use magic for their own ends and failing miserably. (Lots of scope for humour here).

5. Character studies (I love the poignant ones which can show you another way of looking at things. Some of my historical flash tales cross with this category).

And the nice thing with all of the above is there is so much scope with each and every one. Different characters handle situations in their own way.

For one character, a humorous story would be their best vehicle. For another, it would be a “straight” tale, possibly tragic.

What I do know is the mood of the story has to reflect something of my character’s personality and attitudes, otherwise it won’t ring true.


I often work out what the most important thing is about the character I’m about to put in a story and then why that matters. There is the story in a nutshell.

Sometimes I work out what the character’s major trait is and how that affects them and the world around them. There is many a good story to be written using that route.

I do have a lot of fun with feisty characters here. They land themselves and others right in it and that is such fun to write and to read. I also think you can get a sense of when the writer has had fun creating their stories. Something of that comes through.

The reason formulaic writing can get a bad press is it comes through that the writer is bored with sticking to the same old, same old. Even in linked flash fiction stories, or series novels, the characters have to engage the readers each and every time.

That means the writer has to love writing about them to be able to keep that up. Therefore, there has to be something very special about their lead to generate that. What is the something special about your main character? Why do you write for them?

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I sometimes know the closing line for a flash fiction story right at the outset. I draft something that I know will be the perfect finish to a tale and then work backwards from there to get to the beginning of the story. It is also a great way of mixing up my approaches to story writing.

I find that keeps things fresh and interesting for me and hope it will do so for a reader too.

In The Magician in Tripping the Flash Fantastic, I knew what the closing line would be immediately. (I can’t say what it is without giving the story away!). Punchlines can work well here too. It’s then a question of finding the appropriate start to your story so that punchline is justified.

However I approach writing the story, my overall aim is to have a story that “flows well” so a reader will be taken along for what I hope will be an enjoyable but brief ride!

Fairytales with Bite – Who Controls The Magic?

Interesting question this one, I think. If your story is set in a magical world, is everyone magical? Does everyone have the same abilities? Is there room to improve on your skills here? Is there anyone who has more magic than anyone else and what do they do with the “extra”?

Is there magical infighting and how does that manifest itself? If a species with the gift of invisibility resents another species who can fly, how could they use their gift to try to either gain the ability to fly themselves or to stop the others from doing so?

Wherever there is any kind of power, there will always be those who resent the ones wielding it so you can reflect that in your stories too. It is all about control when all is said and done, so who does the controlling?

How do they maintain their position? Do they use fear or do they reward those who work for them well so people are happy to go along with it?

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This World and Others – Etiquette and Expectations

Have you given thought to etiquette and expectations in your fictional world? Are there any?!

Any kind of society, including a fictional one, has to have some sort of system by which it works. Where you have a system, you will often have a class system.

What is expected by those who run your created world of those they rule over. What do the “subjects”expect of their rulers? Do either of them deliver?!

Do standards here match or mirror those of here on Earth?

There should be some kind of laws your society runs on, including a criminal law so people know what will happen if they fall foul of what is expected from them. How would this manifest itself in the world you’ve invented? Is their idea of what is criminal the same as ours or different?

Do the various species in your fictional world have varying standards of etiquette? Are there any common grounds between them? If one species thinks burping is the highest compliment known, how do they get on with another species who considers it rude? What would unite them?

Plenty of food for thought there!

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Twitter Corner

 

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The Joy of Photos – and Finding My Feet

Now there’s a post heading I hadn’t expected to write! All will be explained below…

Image Credit:

  • All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.
  • Images from Scotland were taken by me for my Chandler’s Ford Today this week bar one. That was the one with me in it taken by Adrian Symes.
  • Images of me reading at Bridge House and Swanwick events taken by Dawn Kentish Knox and Penny Blackburn respectively.
  • Image of me signing a copy of From Light to Dark and Back Again for the talented and lovely Scottish crime writer, Val Penny, was taken by Jennifer C Wilson at Swanwick. We all missed Swanwick this year, cancelled due to Covid.
  • There! I think I’ve credited everyone I need to now! And a big thank you to all for the pictures. Appropriately my CFT post this week touches on the importance of photos!

Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

Double bubble from me this evening. Firstly I talk about The Joy of Photos in my Chandler’s Ford Today post this week. The great thing with this post is I had no trouble sourcing images for this one at all! I share a few of my favourites, some of which naturally involve Lady, but also discuss the impact of photos on writers.

Not only is there the author pic we all need to have so people know who we are, but then there are the book cover images, book trailers etc. Without still images, there would have been no moving ones either. So photos are definitely something to celebrate.

Hope you enjoy the post! (Oh and I was thrilled to find the Feature Image for this post. Pixabay, my darling people, you came up trumps here!).

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Second post tonight and publication news. My humorous story, Finding My Feet, is now up on Cafelit. Hope you enjoy and that it makes you smile. Great fun to write and one of my favourite kind of tale – that of the fairytale told from a minor character’s viewpoint. It always makes for an interesting perspective! (Teaser below but do follow the link for the whole story).

Screenshot_2020-10-30 Finding My FeetFLASH - Ideas will spark others, something else I love flash fiction for - Pixabay

Facebook – General – and Association of Christian Writers

Well, they say you should write about what you know so I did! I talk about prep work for a cyberlaunch in my blog spot this month for More Than Writers, the Association of Christian Writers’ blog.

There is no ONE correct way to have any kind of launch, online or otherwise, but whatever you decide to do here, preparation is key. It really does pay off. See the post for more.

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As well as my story page on Cafelit, there is also a page for each of many of the regular writers here. I’ve just updated mine to include an update on my website details and naturally my book list!

And I’ll have a new story on Cafelit on Friday so am looking forward to sharing that (see above!). My CFT post about The Joy of Photos is also out on Friday. (Nice thing for that post is I sourced most of the pics from the ones I’ve taken earlier this year and I discuss why I like them. I also look at how photos play a big part in most writers’ lives).

I talk about preparation for a cyberlaunch in my More Than Writers blog for the Association of Christian Writers and will share the link for that tomorrow. Hope it will prove useful. (Again see above).

Idea for a writing prompt: take the same opening line, change just ONE word in it, and then use the line for TWO stories! I’ve done this in Tripping The Flash Fantastic with my tales, Mishaps and Jumping Time.

My opening lines here?

1. Going back in time had its drawbacks.

2. Going forward in time had its drawbacks.

I had a great deal of fun with this and I used the same lead character in both stories. I hope to write more linked flash fiction like this.

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From Light to Dark and Back Again

Delighted to have another funny flash tale on Cafelit this evening. I’ve always had a soft spot for the Cinderella story as this tale will also show!

But surely the story of Cinderella is so well known, it can’t bear any more re-tellings?

Hmmm…. no!

I love writing from the perspective of minor characters, indeed it is how I got into print with Bridge House Publishing over a decade ago now. And it opens up a host of new story possibilities simply because you can (a) invent your own minor character or (b) use one that is already in the canon of the story so to speak.

Have fun with these people. It is their turn to shine!

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Story time! Well, mostly. One thing I’ve been active with this year has been producing videos of me reading from my work and sharing a little of how I came to write the stories.

This is from my winning entry for 2020’s Waterloo Arts Festival Writing Competition. I was one of the winners and this is an extract from my tale, Books and the Barbarians. Great fun to write. Hope you enjoy!

Video for Books and the Barbarians by Allison Symes. Copyright 2020.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/iqeepkzyud5u7l9/Waterloo%20Art%20Festival%202020%20-%20Allison%20Symes%20Video.mp4?dl=0

As well as my two collections, From Light to Dark and Back Again and Tripping the Flash Fantastic, I have a number of flash and other stories in various anthologies. See my Amazon Author Central page for more. See
See my next post tonight for one of my winning stories from one of the Waterloo Arts Festival Writing Competitions (see above and hope you enjoy the video!).

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For my flash fiction writing, as it has to be character led, I focus on getting the character right before I plunge into the tale itself. So my outlining is focussed on working out who my character is and their traits, for good or ill, will play a major part in the story I’m about to write.

That’s because if a character is arrogant, for example, you can bet that arrogance is going to land them right in it during the tale. Indeed, it ought to! What I need to decide then is whether the story is going to be a funny or serious one.

I like to know what makes my character tick before I write them. They do still sometimes surprise me and that’s fine. If the surprise proves to be better than what I originally outlined, I go with the surprise every time!

Fairytales With Bite – Never Ignore the Underdog!

One of the early lessons I learned from reading fairytales is to look out for the underdog! The fairy godmother will be turning up to help them for one thing. You learn quickly that the underdog is likely to turn out to be the hero or heroine. Nor do they let the circumstances in which they’ve become the underdog grind them down.

Also the underdog is generally the nicest character by far. What makes your underdog “worthy” of being helped? What can they do to help themselves improve their situation? Does magic help or hinder their progress?

The underdog never gets the happy ever after ending straight away either. They do have to go through difficult times to get to that point. They usually learn something which helps them develop as a character directly due to the difficult times they’ve been through.

So let’s hear it for the underdog then, albeit they won’t get their just deserts immediately! (Meaning the other qualities they must have are patience and endurance!).

This World and Others – What Convinces a Reader Your Created World is “real enough” to Read about?

I’m convinced by the reality of a fictional world by the little details. Yes, I love a good fantasy map (all hail The Lord of The Rings for that), but I also like to know how a place is governed.

I need an idea of the species that live in the fictional world and whether they get on or not. Politics plays a part too. After all fictional worlds still have to be governed by someone and they are bound to have opposition (whether that’s justified or not).

So a sense of how ordinary life is lived is crucial, as well as reading about the inevitable extraordinary changes your characters will be facing in your story. Those little details help give your creation a solid foundation.

I know they help me visualise things better and that in turn draws me even further into the tale. A character swearing about the dreadful weather will be understandable to everyone even if their species is the most bizarre it is possible to imagine!

And characterisation is of the utmost importance. Your characters may have sky blue pink skin tone and have three heads, but we still need to know what makes them tick, what their motivations are and so on.

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Twitter Highlights

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WRAPPING UP

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

Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

It is a bit odd, I know, to start a CFT post with a picture loudly proclaiming “The End” but it is appropriate!

The sub-title for my CFT post, Wrapping Up, this week is “Is A Writer’s Work Ever Done?” It isn’t a one-word post starting with N and ending with O, honest! I do discuss balancing writing, editing, submitting, and marketing though.

I also look at having an online presence, building on successes (think series of little steps) and discovering new markets for your work in the process.
Hope you enjoy!

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Further to my CFT post earlier, I have to say it was a huge wake-up call to me when, having had my first book published, I discovered the need to market it. AND to do so without annoying the socks (or other hosiery items of preference) off everyone else in doing so.

My main focus has been to try to entertain or “give value” to anyone reading my CFT and other blog posts or my stories. I know I don’t like the hard sell. I DO love reading an interesting blog post by someone and then go on to check their books out. HOW you approach things I think makes a huge difference.

You need to engage with people and that means give and take.

Mind you, it is an absolute pleasure to celebrate with friends who have books out (though it is a shame we can only do so online right now). At the end of the day, books and stories are wonderful things and getting them out into the world is a fabulous thing to do.

So keep writing and reading, folks!

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Looking forward to sharing my CFT post tomorrow. I’ve called it Wrapping Up – Is The Writer’s Work Ever Done? And no it is not a one word post starting with the letter N and finishing with the letter O! Honest!😂

I do talk about getting the balance right between creating new work, editing current work and getting it submitted, and marketing. It is not an easy thing to get right and something I think all writers have to see as an ongoing process.

There will be times you get it spot on. Other times, despite best endeavours, you won’t. What helps here is to look at what you are achieving and to continue to get work out there.

You are in it for the long haul and you are looking to build on what you’ve achieved to date. Sometimes you will build a lot. Sometimes it will feel like you’re not building anything. (You almost certainly are by the way. You’re probably busy learning about what works for you and what doesn’t in terms of writing and marketing when you feel like this. I’ve found it is at times like that I learn the most and that helps me save time and effort later on).

Link up tomorrow.

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Am delighted to confirm I’ll be taking part in the Brechin Book Fest on November 21st and 22nd. It’s the first Book Festival I’ve taken part in and I’m looking forward to it a lot. (Link takes you to the Facebook event page for this).

Naturally it has to be online but it should be a lot of fun. And if you want to buy books as Christmas presents etc. (and you DO, don’t you?!), why not check out the Festival and see what takes your fancy!

I’ll be talking more about this nearer the time but am glad to say Scottish crime writer #WendyHJones will also be taking part in this.

Screenshot_2020-10-21 BRECHIN ANGUS BOOK FEST Facebook

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Another aspect to flash fiction to consider is you can take a piece of short work you’ve written and expand it to something much longer later on.

That in turn means you can submit the short piece to a flash fiction market and the longer one to, say, a competition for work over 1000 words long. The two pieces WILL be different.

And then you could take the basic flash idea and expand it out into, say, a play, or other form of writing.

I have done this occasionally. (I’m usually too busy working on the next idea and character(s) to do this as much as perhaps I should but do bear it in mind).

Below is a video of me reading The Back of Beyond from Tripping The Flash Fantastic. As you’ll realise when you come to the end of it, this idea here gives huge possibilities for extending a story outwards. And is one I’ve marked down to have a go at myself at some point.

– The Back of Beyond by Allison Symes. From Tripping the Flash Fantastic (Chapeltown Books – September 2020).

Now when I say I’m glad flash fiction has taken off as a format, you’re not going to be surprised. But aside from the obvious reasons why I would say that, I am glad it has because the world of words thrives on variety.

One kind of book does not suit all. The same applies to stories. And I am all for encouraging those who would rather read shorter tales and who, for whatever reason, just don’t want to go down the novel route.

You never know. By reading lots of shorts, that may encourage people to take steps into reading longer works. But even if not they’re reading and that is what really matters.

And I understand why, for some, it has to be the novel that they read. They want the scope and depth a novel can give them and perhaps don’t see the point of the short form where you can’t expand. Both have their place. And the authors of both would love your support!

A MASSIVE thank you for the wonderful reaction to my post yesterday re my book signing for a customer. I have been overwhelmed in a very good way by the support. Thank you one and all. (My better half took the pics and hoped they’d be okay. I have confirmed to him all is absolutely fine!).

With close to 650 people reached, it is easiest the biggest response to a FB post of mine. I am glad I was sitting down when I saw that figure…😊

You may have seen on my author page I will be taking part in the Brechin Book Fest on November 21st and 22nd. I’ll talk more about this nearer the time but naturally I shall be waving the flag for flash fiction.

Oh and if you want a taster from Tripping The Flash Fantastic, do look out for my Chandler’s Ford Today post on Friday. The subject is wrapping up and I ask if a writer’s work is ever done, can we ever say “it’s a wrap” as they do in movies?

Well, you can easily guess the answer to that one but I also discuss balancing writing with marketing and as part of that I share my book trailer for TTFF and my video of Judgement Day. Update since I wrote this post: numbers up to over 700. Thanks, everyone.

Enjoying my workAlways lovely getting to do some signingsSigning TTFF

Fairytales With Bite – When The Magical Element Goes Wrong

I’ve mentioned before I like fairytales and fantasy stories which show the downside of magic.

(And one forgotten element here is the continual pressure on those who can “do” magic to produce the goods as if expected to bring the rabbit out of the hat each and every time… oh… maybe they do! Joking aside, anyone with special skills will be expected to (a) practice them and (b) be able to reproduce them on demand. Any magical being that can’t do that is going to have a short life expectancy).

But another element is to consider is what if magic goes wrong. Who does the clearing up? (And there will be loads of clearing up to do almost inevitably).

Have they had to do this before? Do they get fed up being called in by those who have experimented with magic where they should not have done etc? There are story possibilities there (and potentially humorous ones too).

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This World and Others – Cultures

I am not talking yogurt here! In the world you’re setting up, how many cultures exist within it?

Which cultures always clash and what is the history of that? Does anyone try to break the mould there? What are the lovely sides to your cultures? What are the not-so-nice sides?

Within each culture, how do they deal with dissenters? Lots of potential for stories here precisely because there is clearly room for conflict and without that there is no story.

Is there one dominant culture and how do the other kinds react to that dominance? Does the dominant culture see their role in your world as a “burden of responsibility” kind of thing or do they see their dominance as a matter of pride and aggravate everyone else?

The cultures that are looked down on and despised – what do they do to fight back against that or do they prefer to be ignored and left to live their lives in peace?

Plenty of food for thought there but the main point is no one character is an island. They have to have a background and a major part of that will be a reflection of the culture they live in, whether they like it or not.

So it would pay then to not just outline your character but to outline their cultural background and how that makes them what they are. (Even if they rebel against it!). All of this will add depth to your story too.

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THE PHONE CONVERSATION

Image Credit:

All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated.

Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.


Facebook – General and Chandler’s Ford Today
Double post from me tonight. A busy end to a busy week!

First up tonight is the link to my Chandler’s Ford Today post for this week. The Phone Conversation is a bit different from the kind of post I usually write here as (a) I set a writing challenge in it and (b) I include a new piece of flash fiction too.

My challenge is where I invite you to name one person (existing forwards or backwards in time) who you would love to speak to by phone. You only get the ONE phone call. Remember the old cop shows that always had that as a plot device? Well, I’ve taken the idea and run with it here.

Whichever direction in time you choose, the recipient would be enabled to use the phone. (Nor, if you go back in time, would they be burnt for witchcraft in being able to use such a strange device!).

Rules: Keep it short, keep it funny (and that rules out politics given that is anything BUT funny).

Now naturally I answered my own challenge and came up with a new flash fiction story as it was the best way for me to answer it! See The Biter Bit which I hope both amuses you and acts as a kind of heads-up to be wary of the scammers out there.

I look forward to seeing what you come up with – comments over on the CFT page please. (Oh and I had great fun with the captions for some of the images below but do check these out over on the CFT page! You can probably guess which ones I had the fun with!).

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SECOND POST!
A big thank you to #BarryLillie for hosting me on his blog today. The questions were challenging but great fun to answer! Hope you enjoy.

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Delighted to share another lovely review for Tripping The Flash Fantastic. Many thanks!

Screenshot_2020-10-15 Truly delightful
Now as we head rapidly towards the end of the year, and with book events mainly going to online versions only, writers, I know, are going to be even more appreciative of support than we normally are. (And generally we ARE an appreciative lot, honest!).

The nice thing is there are two big things you can do to support the writer friends in your life and they cost nothing, merely take a little time.

These are:-
1. Support their event by “going” to it even if only for a short while.
2. Give an honest review of their book on Amazon and Goodreads in particular.

Many thanks, folks, on behalf of EVERY writer!😊😍

thank you signage

Photo by Giftpundits.com on Pexels.com

cup of aromatic cappuccino with thank you words on foam

Photo by wewe yang on Pexels.com

Many thanks to #ValPenny for hosting me on her blog today. This is the final part of my mini blog tour, all involving splendid people from Swanwick Writers’ Summer School. (Last week I was guest on #PatriciaMOsborne‘s and #JenWilson‘s blogs – thank you, ladies!).

Tonight’s post with Val is an in-depth article. Naturally I talk about Tripping The Flash Fantastic, what I love about flash fiction writing, and discuss what I can of my internet search history! 😂😂😂 Best leave it there I think.

I also share a little about my writing routine and what I think is the best thing about being a writer.

Thanks again, Val. It was fab to chat!

From Light to Dark and Back Again

I’ve written a new flash story, The Biter Bit, as part of my Chandler’s Ford Today post this week (and that’s a first). Hope you enjoy!

I found writing a story was the best way to answer the challenge I set in this post (and naturally I was going to meet said challenge myself). Stories are fabulous vehicles for getting points across without preaching or switching people off.

(Oh and a quick update on Tripping The Flash Fantastic. It is available on the Waterstones website too).

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Hope the week has been a good one. Now I usually share news about my Chandler’s Ford Today post over on my Facebook Author page. But this week’s post is different!

Called The Phone Conversation, I issue a fun challenge and share a new flash fiction story in my response to the challenge I set! Can’t really say more than that without giving the game away but link up tomorrow. (See above!).

I don’t usually combine my fiction with non-fiction writing but for the challenge I set, I realised using a flash story was the best way to meet it! More tomorrow. It is the first flash tale I’ve written for a couple of weeks given the cyberlaunch for TTFF etc and it was good to get back to that again.


A huge thanks to #ValPenny for hosting me on her blog today. It’s always a joy to chat about flash fiction. Naturally, Tripping The Flash Fantastic was mentioned too!

(Link to go on my website shortly on my interviews page and later in the week on my next blog post. I have shared this on my author page on Facebook tonight though so do pop across to that if you would like to read this now. Val knows how to set good questions!).

I do have an interview page on my website (which I will be updating shortly to include the mini blog tour I’ve been on with Val today, and #PatriciaMOsborne and #JenWilson last week). If you want to know more about my work and/or flash fiction, the interview page is a good place to start.

(And I will be updating the page again probably over the weekend to include my appearance on #BarryLillie’s blog this week too).


Fairytales With Bite – Is Magic All That Wonderful in Stories?

One thing I don’t think is stressed enough is that magic is not the be all and end all in a story. Nor should it be. If a character can just solve all of their problems with the wave of the old magic wand, well that’s going to make for a very boring story. Wave wand, conflict and story over. Hmm.,, I don’t know about you but I would feel a bit cheated with that.

There should be limitations as to how magic can be used (and I also believe it would have to drain the user of it physically and mentally too). I felt the Harry Potter series covered this aspect well.

Also Lord Vetinari in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series also makes pointed comments about how dangerous magic is especially when countering Moist Von Lipwig’s plea to use the stuff in Raising Steam and call the wizards in to help with a major and urgent problem he’s facing.

So, for me, a good story does show the down side of magic. I also like to see characters call on their own non-magical resources to solve problems. I also like to seem them overcome issues which are caused by magic. And when magic is used, it should be where there is no other option and should be for the good of more than one character.

Also there’s the whole aspect of abuse of magical power to be explored too. How that is tackled or not is to me far more interesting than the magical element itself.

 

This World and Others – What Readers Need to Know

The writer will always need to know far more about their fictional world than the reader does. You will need to know what drives your characters and some of their back story but that doesn’t mean it has to appear on the page the reader enjoys.

What should come through is a sense that the writer really knows their characters and it is that I think readers pick up on.

I love discovering more about the fictional world as the story goes along. I don’t need to know it all at once. And having characters reveal things is also intriguing. What is obvious to one character isn’t to another and that character discovers something new at the same time as the reader does. Always like that.

So it is a question then of working out what it is your reader does need to know and how best to “plant it” in the story. You don’t want a huge block of info all in one hit as that risks sending the reader to sleep (especially if their reading is done at bedtime as mine is!).

But by drip feeding information, that goes a long way to keeping the reader turning the pages to find out more.

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CYBERLAUNCH – TRIPPING THE FLASH FANTASTIC

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

Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

A self explanatory post from me for CFT this week (well, you can’t get more self explanatory than Local Author Cyberlaunch News – Allison Symes – Tripping The Flash Fantastic – can you?!)

Having said that I do share in this post some thoughts on cyberlaunches, the joy of technology, and how good prep work helps SO much with this kind of event.

Hope you enjoy the post and hope to see you at the Tripping The Flash Fantastic event tomorrow.  See both the CFT post for details and the direct link here.

Screenshot_2020-10-02 Tripping The Flash Fantastic Cyberlaunch Facebook

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Well, it has been quite a week but it is lovely to end it looking ahead to the cyberlaunch tomorrow.

I am also delighted to share a fantastic (appropriately!) review for Tripping the Flash Fantastic from Aly Rhodes which came in today. A huge thanks to her and to all of my lovely reviewers so far.

TRIPPING THE FLASH FANTASTIC
This is the author’s second collection of flash fiction i.e. where the stories are often very brief ( 100 words) up to maybe 1000 at most; maximum story with minimum wordage. Here in this collection witches play tricks, historic figures give their pov’s (Anne Boleyn), Santa Claus is revealed, dragons fly, and fairy godmothers run rampant.

Symes has enormous fun with these quirky, alternative mini-tales, which often make the reader laugh but sometimes cry too.

My favourites were The Pink Rose, (outstandingly touching), And Then There Are Tuesdays (I was born on a Tuesday so this had resonance for me) and Time To Be Off, the last line cracked me up.

Dip in, sample, taste and savour these short shorts.

And on behalf of ALL writers, I’ll take the chance to say reviews are always hugely appreciated by us all. They don’t have to be long but they help so much.

I use reviews myself as a consumer for everything from book purchases to new groceries to try! So if you’re thinking of reviewing but haven’t done so, perhaps you’re wondering if it’s worth it, then let me say it definitely IS worth it. Please do send them in!


Tripping the Flash Fantastic Cyberlaunch
ONE DAY TO GO! Where has the week gone? Time for another story I think.
Look forward to seeing you on my Facebook event page from 7 pm tomorrow.

As well as celebrating the launch of Tripping The Flash Fantastic (and it means so much to me to have a second book out), I would like to see the launch as a celebration of stories. They are always worth celebrating! Cheers!

Tonight I share one of my favourite tales from TTFF – Being Yourself. You may never look at librarians in quite the same way again…🙂😉


Delighted to share another review for Tripping the Flash Fantastic. Many thanks to Gail Aldwin for the following.

TRIPPING THE FLASH FANTASTIC

The title sums up this collection exactly! These short stories contain characters including dragons, witches, fairies, ghosts, figures from history and contemporary life. Many stories include unusual observations and viewpoints. Some are funny, others pack a punch. If you enjoy a diverse collection of stories, this is the book for you!

When it comes to reading, as well as writing flash collections, I do love a variety of mood and characters. It is always the characters I want to discover and root for/boo hard at (depending on whether they’re the villain or not). Naturally that love of character comes out in my own writing.

And a little later, I’ll be sharing a brief reading of one of my stories from Tripping the Flash Fantastic on my events page, which I hope you enjoy. (I’ve put one of the videos I’ve used up above and will share another here shortly). (Oh and below are three other images I did have in mind for the book cover for TTFF at some point).

Tripping the Flash Fantastic Cyberlaunch
It’s storytime as the flyer says. I’m reading Judgement Day from Tripping The Flash Fantastic and then share a little of what led me to writing this story. Hope you enjoy. Oh and before I forget, as if I could (!)… TWO DAYS TO GO! (When I put this on Facebook during the week of course. It has been a busy and exciting week as you can probably tell by now!).

Storytime - Judgement Day By Allison Symes


Such good fun to be on a mini blog tour at the moment. I was guest on #PatriciaMOsborne’s blog yesterday. Today I am on Jen Wilson’s blog (see my earlier post for the link). Next week I shall be on Val Penny’s one. And the two things the four of us have in common?

As well as being writers, we are all stalwarts of the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School. AND two of us are part of the renowned Prosecco Queens’ quiz team of said Summer School!

(Image below is of me taking part in the Open Prose Mic Night at the School in 2019. Many thanks to #PennyBlackburn for the pic. The other image was taken by Cheryl Holland on my phone and features Val Penny and Jen Wilson and other lovely Swanwick friends. We all can’t wait for Swanwick to resume, hopefully, in 2021).

34889c89ed2c7f0164fbf25826dd9ac9.0Always time for a laugh with fellow writers-1

Many thanks to #JenniferCWilson for hosting me on her blog today. It is always great fun to talk about flash fiction. Knowing Jennifer’s own love for history, it was particularly nice to discuss this aspect of my flash fiction writing with her here.

Flash fiction has the huge advantage of being character led and I can set those characters wherever and whenever I want. Great fun! But with Tripping The Flash Fantastic, for the first time, I have written historically based flash fiction. See the article for more about this but it is something I hope to do more of at some point.

Just to confirm the link for my launch event on Saturday can be found at https://www.facebook.com/events/1246876649024453

Tripping the Flash Fantastic Cyberlaunch
I’m on a mini blog tour at the moment with fellow stalwarts from the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School. It was a pleasure to chat yesterday with Patricia M Osborne on her blog.

Today I chat with Jen Wilson on her blog

Next week I shall be on Val Penny’s blog and it has been great having slots ahead of the cyberlaunch and again just after it.

As I know Jen writes historical paranormal (do check out her Kindred Spirits series), my focus for this blog spot was on my historical flash stories in TTFF.

I’ve mentioned on my posts before that one thing I love about flash fiction is it has to be character-led. That means I can set those characters wherever and whenever I want!

For the first time with TTFF, I have set stories back in time. There are stories in here which are from the viewpoint of Richard III and Elizabeth of York for example, as well as my trademark “fairytales with bite” fiction.

All good fun to do and, of course, history is full of wonderful and not-so wonderful characters. This is an aspect of flash writing I hope to do more of in future.


Time for a listen I think! I had the great joy of being a guest on #WendyHJones’ excellent podcast, The Writing and Marketing Show, earlier this year. My first time on a podcast, great fun to do, and no prizes for guessing what I talked about (though there is a huge hint below!).

Do check out Wendy’s show every Wednesday. All of the episodes are jam packed with tips and advice.

See https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/the-writing-and-marketing-show/e/67280384

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again –


One of the challenges of any form of fiction writing is ensuring readers can tell your characters apart by the way they speak etc.

Now with flash fiction where I often focus on one character per story, that isn’t a problem as such.

Where the challenge DOES come in is ensuring that in a collection like From Light to Dark and Back Again and now Tripping the Flash Fantastic as well, the characters in the books as a WHOLE are nicely varied. Readers should be able to distinguish between the stories (and thus the characters).

It’s another reason why I like a good variety of mood and tone in my books as that helps with this aspect enormously.


Sometimes when I write my flash tales, I have the character in mind clearly and I then need to think of something for them to do! At other times I have the ideas of a situation to write about but need the right person to “fill” the role, so to speak. So this is why I jot down ideas for stories but also for characters.

Let’s say a competition theme is one of honesty. I could go one of two ways here – use an honest character and highlight the theme via them directly. Or I can use a dishonest character and contrast them with the honest situation. Both would work. It’s then down to me to decide which of the two characters I think is the strongest and I will then write their story up.


This week is going to be focused on my launch for Tripping the Flash Fantastic, of course, but I am looking forward to sharing a couple of readings from the new book. (See above!).

How do I choose stories for reading for things like this or for Open Prose Mic Nights and the like? I try to go for a balance of mood. If I read a funny tale, I will read a darker one too. I also go for a balance of lengths too. If I read a 100-worder, I will also read a 250 or something that is a little longer than the first tale I read.

Above all, I try not to go on for too long. Recordings are best kept fairly short (as it effects download time etc). Also a short recording or reading makes it easier to keep your listener’s interest.

Pic below is of me reading at the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School’s Open Prose Mic Night (and there’s a phrase you don’t want to say quickly!). A huge thanks to #GeoffParkes for the pic.

The Open Mic for Prose night

Fairytales With Bite – The Sting in The Tail


One of the joys of flash fiction writing, which is my big love, is it is a great form for twist in the tale endings. Also, as the form has to be character led, you can set those characters whenever and wherever you want. Your characters don’t have to be human either. I like all of that!

One great thing about using non-human characters is you can use them to reflect aspects of us. Animal Farm by George Orwell does that brilliantly. (Definitely not flattering either).

The most effective stings in the tail are for me where:-

1. The character is an aggravating one and deserves whatever is coming to them!

2. You think a character you’re rooting for has little chance of winning and things change at the very last moment so that they do win out. (The classic fairytales often work on this basis. Think of Cinderella when the Prince insists that all of the women in the household have to try the glass slipper. Had the Prince not been so persistent….)

So think about how and where in your story you are going to place your sting. In my Calling The Doctor from From Light to Dark and Back Again, my sting is in the very last word.

Both book trailers below. (For me it is lovely seeing them side by side).

Hope you enjoy the stories and do think about how you can make your sting have the maximum impact on a reader. Sometimes you can know the sting fairly early on. It is then a question of finding out whether the character deals with that sting in a good way or not and that can be fun too.

This World and Others – Conjuring Up Your World


What do you want readers to imagine when they read your stories? What aspects of your created world are the most important for them to read about and how can you convey that?

I’ve mentioned before it is often the telling detail placed in the right place in a story that has the maximum impact on a reader. I don’t necessarily need to know Character A lives in an “upside down” world.

I do need to know Character A walks on what we would consider to be the sky and a brief showing of how that is done. (For the characters that live in this world it would all be perfectly natural of course, but often a story changes dramatically when a stranger comes into the world and someone has to show them the ropes).

Readers need a sense that if your world were to exist somewhere, it could exist. That is your characters can find food, drink, shelter, there is some sort of government etc. You can unveil this a bit at a time and I can think of no better example to use than Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series. You find out more about how Ankh-Morpork is “run” as the series goes on. What he gives you in each story is enough for you to make sense of that story.

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

Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

A self explanatory post from me for CFT this week (well, you can’t get more self explanatory than Local Author Cyberlaunch News – Allison Symes – Tripping The Flash Fantastic – can you?!)

Having said that I do share in this post some thoughts on cyberlaunches, the joy of technology, and how good prep work helps SO much with this kind of event.

Hope you enjoy the post and hope to see you at the Tripping The Flash Fantastic event tomorrow.  See both the CFT post for details and the direct link here.

Screenshot_2020-10-02 Tripping The Flash Fantastic Cyberlaunch Facebook

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Well, it has been quite a week but it is lovely to end it looking ahead to the cyberlaunch tomorrow.

I am also delighted to share a fantastic (appropriately!) review for Tripping the Flash Fantastic from Aly Rhodes which came in today. A huge thanks to her and to all of my lovely reviewers so far.

TRIPPING THE FLASH FANTASTIC
This is the author’s second collection of flash fiction i.e. where the stories are often very brief ( 100 words) up to maybe 1000 at most; maximum story with minimum wordage. Here in this collection witches play tricks, historic figures give their pov’s (Anne Boleyn), Santa Claus is revealed, dragons fly, and fairy godmothers run rampant.
Symes has enormous fun with these quirky, alternative mini-tales, which often make the reader laugh but sometimes cry too.
My favourites were The Pink Rose, (outstandingly touching), And Then There Are Tuesdays (I was born on a Tuesday so this had resonance for me) and Time To Be Off, the last line cracked me up.
Dip in, sample, taste and savour these short shorts.

And on behalf of ALL writers, I’ll take the chance to say reviews are always hugely appreciated by us all. They don’t have to be long but they help so much. I use reviews myself as a consumer for everything from book purchases to new groceries to try! So if you’re thinking of reviewing but haven’t done so, perhaps you’re wondering if it’s worth it, then let me say it definitely IS worth it. Please do send them in!

Tripping the Flash Fantastic Cyberlaunch
ONE DAY TO GO! Where has the week gone? Time for another story I think.
Look forward to seeing you here from 7 pm tomorrow. As well as celebrating the launch of Tripping The Flash Fantastic (and it means so much to me to have a second book out), I would like to see the launch as a celebration of stories. They are always worth celebrating! Cheers!
Tonight I share one of my favourite tales from TTFF – Being Yourself. You may never look at librarians in quite the same way again…🙂😉
Smile and wink emojis. BY recording.

8th October

Delighted to share another review for Tripping the Flash Fantastic. Many thanks to Gail Aldwin for the following.

The title sums up this collection exactly! These short stories contain characters including dragons, witches, fairies, ghosts, figures from history and contemporary life. Many stories include unusual observations and viewpoints. Some are funny, others pack a punch. If you enjoy a diverse collection of stories, this is the book for you!

When it comes to reading, as well as writing flash collections, I do love a variety of mood and characters. It is always the characters I want to discover and root for/boo hard at (depending on whether they’re the villain or not). Naturally that love of character comes out in my own writing.
And a little later this evening, I’ll be sharing a brief reading of one of my stories from Tripping the Flash Fantastic on my events page, which I hope you enjoy. (Oh and below are three other images I did have in mind for the book cover for TTFF at some point). Use TTFF images 1, 2, 3. See TTFF folder.

Tripping the Flash Fantastic Cyberlaunch
It’s storytime as the flyer says. I’m reading Judgement Day from Tripping The Flash Fantastic and then share a little of what led me to writing this story. Hope you enjoy. Oh and before I forget, as if I could (!)… TWO DAYS TO GO! Use the jpg download of the flyer AND from my TTFF drive on E drive the Judgement Day story OR use Dropbox to create a link as I did for CFT. Might be better to do that though may be worth trying to import video directly.

 

7th October
Such good fun to be on a mini blog tour at the moment. I was guest on #PatriciaMOsborne’s blog yesterday. Today I am on Jen Wilson’s blog (see my earlier post for the link). Next week I shall be on Val Penny’s one. And the two things the four of us have in common?
As well as being writers, we are all stalwarts of the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School. AND two of us are part of the renowned Prosecco Queens’ quiz team of said Summer School! (Image below is of me taking part in the Open Prose Mic Night at the School in 2019. Many thanks to #PennyBlackburn for the pic). Swanwick 2019 folder

Many thanks to #JenniferCWilson for hosting me on her blog today. It is always great fun to talk about flash fiction. Knowing Jennifer’s own love for history, it was particularly nice to discuss this aspect of my flash fiction writing with her here.
Flash fiction has the huge advantage of being character led and I can set those characters wherever and whenever I want. Great fun! But with Tripping The Flash Fantastic, for the first time, I have written historically based flash fiction. See the article for more about this but it is something I hope to do more of at some point.
Just to confirm the link for my launch event on Saturday can be found at https://www.facebook.com/events/1246876649024453

https://jennifercwilsonwriter.wordpress.com/2020/10/07/spotlight-allison-symes-tripping-the-flash-fantastic/

Tripping the Flash Fantastic Cyberlaunch
I’m on a mini blog tour at the moment with fellow stalwarts from the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School. It was a pleasure to chat yesterday with Patricia M Osborne on her blog. Today I chat with Jen Wilson on her blog at https://jennifercwilsonwriter.wordpress.com/2020/10/07/spotlight-allison-symes-tripping-the-flash-fantastic/
Next week I shall be on Val Penny’s blog and it has been great having slots ahead of the cyberlaunch and again just after it.
As I know Jen writes historical paranormal (do check out her Kindred Spirits series), my focus for this blog spot was on my historical flash stories in TTFF.
I’ve mentioned on my posts before that one thing I love about flash fiction is it has to be character-led. That means I can set those characters wherever and whenever I want!
For the first time with TTFF, I have set stories back in time. There are stories in here which are from the viewpoint of Richard III and Elizabeth of York for example, as well as my trademark “fairytales with bite” fiction.
All good fun to do and, of course, history is full of wonderful and not-so wonderful characters. This is an aspect of flash writing I hope to do more of in future.

SECOND POST
Time for a listen I think! I had the great joy of being a guest on #WendyHJones’ excellent podcast, The Writing and Marketing Show, earlier this year. My first time on a podcast, great fun to do, and no prizes for guessing what I talked about (though there is a huge hint below!).
Do check out Wendy’s show every Wednesday. All of the episodes are jam packed with tips and advice.
See https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/the-writing-and-marketing-show/e/67280384

 

From Light to Dark and Back Again – General

 

9th October
One of the challenges of any form of fiction writing is ensuring readers can tell your characters apart by the way they speak etc.
Now with flash fiction where I often focus on one character per story, that isn’t a problem as such.
Where the challenge DOES come in is ensuring that in a collection like From Light to Dark and Back Again and now Tripping the Flash Fantastic as well, the characters in the books as a WHOLE are nicely varied. Readers should be able to distinguish between the stories (and thus the characters).
It’s another reason why I like a good variety of mood and tone in my books as that helps with this aspect enormously.

8th October
Sometimes when I write my flash tales, I have the character in mind clearly and I then need to think of something for them to do! At other times I have the ideas of a situation to write about but need the right person to “fill” the role, so to speak. So this is why I jot down ideas for stories but also for characters.
Let’s say a competition theme is one of honesty. I could go one of two ways here – use an honest character and highlight the theme via them directly. Or I can use a dishonest character and contrast them with the honest situation. Both would work. It’s then down to me to decide which of the two characters I think is the strongest and I will then write their story up.

 

7th October
This week is going to be focused on my launch for Tripping the Flash Fantastic, of course, but I am looking forward to sharing a couple of readings from the new book.
How do I choose stories for reading for things like this or for Open Prose Mic Nights and the like? I try to go for a balance of mood. If I read a funny tale, I will read a darker one too. I also go for a balance of lengths too. If I read a 100-worder, I will also read a 250 or something that is a little longer than the first tale I read.
Above all, I try not to go on for too long. Recordings are best kept fairly short (as it effects download time etc). Also a short recording or reading makes it easier to keep your listener’s interest.
Pic below is of me reading at the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School’s Open Prose Mic Night (and there’s a phrase you don’t want to say quickly!). A huge thanks to #GeoffParkes for the pic. Swanwick 2018 folder

Fairytales With Bite – The Sting in The Tail
One of the joys of flash fiction writing, which is my big love, is it is a great form for twist in the tale endings. Also, as the form has to be character led, you can set those characters whenever and wherever you want. Your characters don’t have to be human either. I like all of that! One great thing about using non-human characters is you can use them to reflect aspects of us. Animal Farm by George Orwell does that brilliantly. (Definitely not flattering either).
The most effective stings in the tail are for me where:-
1. The character is an aggravating one and deserves whatever is coming to them!
2. You think a character you’re rooting for has little chance of winning and things change at the very last moment so that they do win out. (The classic fairytales often work on this basis. Think of Cinderella when the Prince insists that all of the women in the household have to try the glass slipper. Had the Prince not been so persistent….)
So think about how and where in your story you are going to place your sting. In my Calling The Doctor from From Light to Dark and Back Again, my sting is in the very last word. Do check it out on my book trailer for FLTDBA at https://www.facebook.com/fairytaleladyallisonsymes
I’ve also had fun with this technique for the trailer for my new book, Tripping The Flash Fantastic. See my landing page at https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com/ for more (and the trailer for FLTDBA is here too). Hope you enjoy the stories and do think about how you can make your sting have the maximum impact on a reader. Sometimes you can know the sting fairly early on. It is then a question of finding out whether the character deals with that sting in a good way or not and that can be fun too.

This World and Others – Conjuring Up Your World
What do you want readers to imagine when they read your stories? What aspects of your created world are the most important for them to read about and how can you convey that?

I’ve mentioned before it is often the telling detail placed in the right place in a story that has the maximum impact on a reader. I don’t necessarily need to know Character A lives in an “upside down” world. I do need to know Character A walks on what we would consider to be the sky and a brief showing of how that is done.

(For the characters that live in this world it would all be perfectly natural of course, but often a story changes dramatically when a stranger comes into the world and someone has to show them the ropes).

Readers need a sense that if your world were to exist somewhere, it could exist. That is your characters can find food, drink, shelter, there is some sort of government etc. You can unveil this a bit at a time and I can think of no better example to use than Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series. You find out more about how Ankh-Morpork is “run” as the series goes on. What he gives you in each story is enough for you to make sense of that story.

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Seasonal Books

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


Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

I talk about the types of book I read at certain times of year in this week’s CFT post. Which books do you save for particular times? Which can you read at any time? Comments as ever are most welcome on the CFT comments page.

Oh and happy reading!

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Further to my CFT post this week about seasonal books, do you write seasonally? Are there specific types of story you only write at certain times of year? Do the seasons help with your writing in an way?

I keep roughly to the same amount of time in writing throughout the year and see advantages to all of the seasons. The lighter evenings improve mood and that can help creativity. The darker evenings encourage me to spend more time at my desk writing so win-win there!

I have written Christmas based stories for both From Light to Dark and Back Again and now Tripping the Flash Fantastic. I can’t honestly remember what time of year I wrote them. I DO know it wasn’t at Christmas. I do take some time off around then for one thing. For another, I also sometimes submit these kind of flash stories to Cafelit and I like to get them in well ahead of time.

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It is always the characters I remember in well loved books, films etc. Sometimes I remember a killer line such as “You were only supposed to blow the bloody doors off” from The Italian Job. But mainly it is the characters I recall. Why?

I suppose it’s because most writers, including me, are interested in what makes people tick. We need to understand motivations so we can give our own characters credible ones readers will latch onto and accept (even if they loathe the characters themselves. Mind you, there is nothing to beat booing at a “good” villain now, is there?!).

And people watching will spark off ideas for characters and stories. I’ve used the colour of someone’s hat that I liked amongst other things. And, of course, there is the old favourite of overhearing something, always out of context incidentally, but wondering what would make YOUR characters come out with something like that. (This is especially true if what you hear is funny!).

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Am busily preparing a book trailer for Tripping the Flash Fantastic as well as finishing off blog pieces to submit. All good fun!

It’s always interesting being on the receiving end of questions, by the way. I love interviewing other authors for Chandler’s Ford Today but it is always fun to be quizzed myself. The best questions always encourage an interviewee to expand. The worst kind are those where you’ll only get a Yes/No answer.

I’ve mentioned before the idea of interviewing your characters as it helps you outline your “people” and you get a better idea of what they are capable of before you write their story. Pretty much the same applies here – again ask your characters interesting questions. Make them talk!

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Just a quick reminder I’ll be on Chat and Spin Radio talking about the joys of flash fiction tomorrow night, 3rd October, at about 9.15 pm.

Also just over a week to go to my cyberlaunch for Tripping the Flash Fantastic. Hope to see you “there”. And if you have questions about flash fiction, do send them in on the night.

Flash is a fantastic form to write and to read and well worth celebrating. It is also my hope it can be used to draw in the reluctant reader to the wonderful world of books.

Focusing on what really matters is important to any kind of writing but the spotlight is turned up a LOT when your word count is DOWN! But the benefits of that are you have a more intense story precisely because it is short and the impact on a reader can be stronger too.

Screenshot_2020-10-02 Tripping The Flash Fantastic Cyberlaunch Facebook

Flash shows you a very brief moment in time for a character but oh what a moment! And that’s the whole point. That moment must be something truly transforming for the character. It doesn’t have to be in a good way either.

In Tripping The Flash Fantastic, in my story Understanding, I used a narrator showing the reader something about another character’s life. Liked the way this worked and I hope to do more of this in future. Seeing something through someone else’s eyes can shed a whole new perspective on things and that can be true for fiction too.

BONUS POST. Two bits of late news, as they say.
1. I’ll be on Chat and Spin Radio this coming Saturday, 3rd October to chat about Tripping the Flash Fantastic. I’ll be on at about 9.15 pm and will share the link with the interview later.

2. I’ve finally got around to creating a story for me on Facebook.


Wet Wednesday here. Lady not overly impressed. I was even less impressed. Still, one good thing about bad weather, is it makes getting back to a nice warm room to get on with some writing even more appealing!

Delighted to share part of another review for Tripping the Flash Fantastic. Many thanks to “Fish Lady” for:-

Allison’s stories always make you stop and think a little – there is something slightly off-centre in the way her characters see the world, and she switches effortlessly from humorous tales to stories with a harder bite. A real treat for readers who enjoy being taken on a mystery tour.

It’s always great to know when your stories impact on readers positively. And a huge encouragement to keep on writing.

The writing life is full of ups and downs and the encouragements help enormously when things are on the down side.

This is another reason I like writing flash fiction I think. I can produce something fairly quickly and submit it. I don’t have to wait too long for results and, if they’re positive, it ends up being that I receive a steady stream of encouragements. And that helps so much.


Fairytales with Bite – Transformations

Transformations are a classic part of fairytales. I wonder what the rats who became footmen remembered when they became rats again! And how easy did they find becoming bipeds when usually they were quadrupeds? Did the spell on them take away all thought of what they had been? Hmm…

Transformations can often be for good, of course, but not always. Sometimes they can be questionable. I doubt if the fairy godmother in Cinderella would have won any prizes for the humane treatment of animals given her transformation of the rats. They had been quite happy being rats after all!

All stories do need some sort of transformation. There has to be a change for there to be any story at all.

Whether you make that transformation good, evil, or questionable will depend so much on (a) you and your personal tastes and (b) your characters.

The transformation must be true to the character though always. If someone evil is going to transform into something better (and you define what that better is!), then you do need to show that character as at least having second thoughts about their behaviour in the run up to that transformation. It will make the transformation more realistic for your readers and they will be more willing to believe it.

The only place things happen by magic is in the fairytales and even in Cinderella you have the situation where the godmother has to look around for things to use. That is a signal to the reader that something is about to change.

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This World and Others – Reflections

Do your characters ever reflect on their actions and if so, how? You generally don’t want monologues here but a character wondering about a course of action is a character showing signs of self-doubt, vulnerability even, and that is likely to appeal to a reader. Certainly readers will understand it. We all have those moments after all.

Does your world reflect this one or have you set up something totally different? (Even the latter can be a reflection of life here to an extent!).
What would you like your characters and/or world to reflect? This could be anything from what you would like them/you to be or they could be the opposite to you and you use your stories as chances to see how things would play out.

Have fun! But a story that makes readers reflect on what they would do if they were in your character’s shoes is a story that is making an impact and that is always good.#

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Preparing An (Online) Party

Image Credit:  Pixabay/Pexels unless stated. Book cover image from Chapeltown Books.

Image of Val Penny giving a wonderful talk at Swanwick Writers’ Summer School kindly provided by her and used in previous CFT posts.

Images of Gill James and Dawn Knox also provided by them respectively and again used in CFT posts.

Many thanks also to Penny Blackburn for her picture of me reading at the 2019 Open Prose Mic Night at Swanwick Writers’ Summer School.

Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

Many thanks to everyone who has already reviewed Tripping the Flash Fantastic and/or has shown support for my cyberlaunch. Very much appreciated. (Further down I share a link to a wonderful review on Val Penny’s Book Review Blog and I hope to share further reviews in due course).

No prizes for guessing why I wrote this piece for CFT this week! See link below (and I do like the way this aspect of the new WordPress works).

My CFT post this week is all about that launch with all relevant details included, BUT I also go on to talk about the advantages of this kind of event. I also share some thoughts on how people can support their writer friends. Hope you enjoy.

Preparing An (Online) Party

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Also, just a quick reminder about the author event I am taking part in tomorrow afternoon, with Gill James and Dawn Kentish Knox. Would be good to see you “there”!

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It has been a good day. Delighted to get off in the post copies of Tripping the Flash Fantastic to someone I know who has been waiting for the book to come out almost as much as I have! So first sales – yippee!

Did I mind going round to the Post Office in a mask for that one? Not a bit! (Got a sneaky bit of advertising in while I was there too. You know how they always ask you what is in the parcel…. well I told them!).😆😆

Also delighted to see the latest review for Tripping the Flash Fantastic is now up on Val Penny’s Book Review Blog. Many thanks, Val. (It is particularly nice to see the covers for both of my books forming part of this review).

My Chandler’s Ford Today post this week will be about my cyberlaunch for Tripping the Flash Fantastic. All the necessary details will be there but I’ll also be sharing thoughts on the advantages of having launches this way.

There are several advantages (and not just for the writer either. Events like this can be huge fun for the audience and I love attending the ones my writer pals hold for this reason. A good event should be entertaining. The idea is to engage with an audience and, yes, hopefully generate book sales but engaging with the audience is SO important. The event has to be fun for them as well as for you.).

I’ll also discuss how readers can make a huge difference in supporting their writer friends holding this kind of event. Link up on Friday.

And just a quick reminder that #GillJames and #DawnKentishKnox and I will be on Zoom this coming Saturday between 3 and 4 pm discussing our works. There will be stories. There will be giveaways. Hope to see you at both events! Should be fun!

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

For both the author event I’m involved with tomorrow and my cyberlaunch on 10th October, I am particularly looking forward to is reading out some of my flash fiction. Flash works excellently for this kind of thing as it is short and to the point and I’ve always loved being read to! Hope you enjoy that too.

I read work out loud regularly as it helps me to literally hear how the story flows. If I trip over words while reading, then I know readers will, so I can correct that. I sometimes record and play back too (usually for longer pieces) and that is also helpful.

Have a lovely time with your reading and/or writing this weekend!



I’ve mentioned before that flash, despite the word count limit, has more flexibility than you might think. Not only can you vary the word count you choose to write to (up to 1000 maximum of course), you can vary the genre of flash story you write.

In both FLTDBA and now Tripping the Flash Fantastic, I have deliberately exploited that. I’ve written crime tales, historical ones, fantasy ones, and so on. I’ve also varied the format of my flash tales. In TTFF there are stories told in poetic form. I’m working on linked flash stories for what I hope will end up being my third collection eventually.

I like to mix up the way I approach a flash story because it keeps things interesting for me and it makes me “up my game”. It’s not a bad thing for a writer to be kept on their toes. Indeed I’ve found it helps my flex my imaginative “muscles” and the more you use those, the more you find you CAN use them.

That is one reason to write regularly. Naturally you need to read regularly too to help feed that imaginative muscle too. We are all inspired by the stories that have come before us. It would be nice to think later others will be inspired by the stories we’re writing now.

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I love that moment when I know I’ve got a character “set” and ready to go. It means I know what makes them tick and, whether I then put them into a funny story or a darker one, I know they will “rise to the occasion”.

For me, a story of whatever length is always about the character. It’s their story. It is them I want to find out about. (Mind you, I am a curious soul like that!).

That doesn’t mean plot is irrelevant. Far from it but you do have to have a “cast” who can get the most out of the plot you devise for them.

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