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

Image Credit:-

All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated.

Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.

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

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

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


Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

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

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

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

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

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Facebook – General – and Authors Electric

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

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

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

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

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

Screenshot_2021-02-19 Authors Electric

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

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

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

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

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



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

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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This World and Others – Codes

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

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

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

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

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

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

Plenty to think about there!

Twitter Corner

What I Like in a Good Book – the A to Z

Facebook – General

What I like most about a good book:-

A = Action to keep me gripped.

B = Backstory that intrigues (and in series novels develops too. See Vimes in the Discworld books for a great example of this).

C = Characters I want to root for or boo heartily. Either is a great reaction to generate!

D = Dialogue that moves the story on, makes me want to turn the page to find out more.

E = Elegant writing. The story flows and the pace varies almost without the reader noticing. That really is elegant (and very good) writing.

F = Fun (even if the story is crime/horror/what have you). There must be a sense the writer had fun in coming up with their world/characters. It does show in the writing. (Nothing must feel forced. It’s a huge turn-off).

G = Genre. The story delivers on its genre. There’s got to be a “good” crime in a crime story, a “decent” horror in a horror tale and so on.

So more on what I like from a good book:-

H = Humour to be appropriate to the story. I prefer subtle humour in fiction rather than outright slapstick (which I think works better in film/TV).

I = Imagery and Impact. A good book will be strong on both counts.

J = Justification – every character should have good reasons for acting the way they are, whether they’re heroes or villains. The justification doesn’t have to be something I agree with but does have to make sense and be understandable.

K = Killer Lines. The ones that make you read them again because they hit you between the eyes. Wodehouse was the master of these. They can be humorous but often a killer line is that turning point in the story where everything changes and is memorable for that reason.

L = Light shining. A good book will show you something of the human condition as if it was shining a light on it. For example, from The Lord of the Rings, the light shining there is that anyone can be a hero if they’re made of the right stuff, including hobbits.

M = Mayhem. To be resolved and bring the story to a satisfying conclusion. There has to be conflict for a story to work. A good book will show the mayhem arising from that conflict and add to the drama. There has to be a “must find out what happens” feeling.

N = Narrative should have plenty of pace, fill in gaps where needed or at least give readers enough clues for them to be able to fill in gaps where needed, and drive the story on to its conclusion.

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The next part of my “what I like to find from a good book” series includes one rather awkward letter, but here goes!

O = Original. While there may be only seven basic plots, I like to see original takes on them! Your interpretation of a revenge theme, say, will be different from mine (while having elements in common). I like to see what the author has to bring to the table here.

P = Prose that flows. No “boring bits”. Prose that makes you want to keep turning the page. I love coming across lines that, intentionally, make me laugh or are so descriptive, the images they conjure up take me right into the world of that story.

Q = Quirky. Not so awkward after all. I love, and write, quirky fiction. I see it as a fiction which injects fresh air into stories in general. I don’t mind if it is the characters that are quirky or the story setting (and usually it is both). These stories often cross boundaries. Who ever would have thought stories with rabbits as the characters would ever take off? Watership Down might, if you like, have a “quirky approach” but the drama of survival (or not) is still there and is what drives the story.

R = Resonance. The characters need to resonate with me. There has to be something about them I can understand or get behind. The story itself must resonate in the same way. A good story is memorable (and stands up to repeated re-readings).

S = Situation. Again this should be identifiable whether the story is set in Southampton or on some galaxy far, far away. It can be a situation we’d be glad never to face or one we have had to deal with countless times but it must catch and hold attention.

T = Tension. There’s no story without conflict. The tension must ratchet up throughout the book until its resolution. It shouldn’t be exaggerated (readers see through that very quickly). The way it builds up should make sense too.

NB Will finish series off in next post.  X and Z should prove to be an interesting challenge!

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

I love the fact flash fiction has so many sub-categories within it.

I write 100-word stories a lot, which are also known as drabbles (making me a flasher and a drabbler but never mind. My 50-word colleagues have it worse – they write dribbles. A flashing dribbler… hmm, not a great image! Whoever came up with these terms… why? Answers on a postcard etc!).

There’s nothing to stop you thinking you’ll write 100 words but find it really works best as a 500-worder or a 50-word one. It’s always better to play to the story’s strength so if you can’t submit it for a 100-word challenge because the tale really does have to be longer than that, write it as a longer piece and then find another market for it. They are out there!

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Another thing you can do with flash fiction is use it as a warm up writing exercise. There’s also nothing to stop you taking those pieces, editing them, submitting them.

It could also make an end of day close down exercise and again nothing to stop you getting the story out there later on. My own view is that every author should have a go at flash fiction as it develops your editorial skills.

And if you’re having one of those days, where you know you’re only going to have so long at your writing desk, drafting some flash fiction sounds particularly good as it is a complete form in and of itself.

Good luck!

And for my acrostic flash story tonight, I’ll have a go with the word acrostic itself. Well, why not?


Allison stumbled across the body on her way home from Slimming World.
Cantankerous as ever, she thought, recognizing the chap she’d walked into.
Really had no consideration for anyone else, even in death, typical of him to still be in the way.
Oh my… I guess I’d better call the cops.
Should’ve gone home the other way tonight.
Trouble falls into my lap at times, she thought.
Instinct made her look around to see a ghoulish figure behind her.
Crammed her fist into the figure’s stomach and bashed it over the head with her bag; nothing but nothing was getting in the way of Allison and her dinner!

Allison Symes – 26th March 2019

Before anyone asks, yes, this is fictional and I did have my dinner!