Pantomime, Rabbits, and Keeping Going

Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated with many created in Book Brush. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes.
Think my title for this post is a cracker – it’s not your usual combo! Hope you’ve had a good weekend and early start to this week. My weekend took in all the fun and chaos of pantomime which was great. Oh yes, it was!
(For those who don’t know the pantomime tradition the “oh yes, he is” and the “oh no, he isn’t” etc etc is a staple ingredient of ALL pantomimes, which are always based on the classic fairytales. This gives me another reason to love them. It is one of the few times an audience is expected to shout at the actors on the stage and where it is welcomed!).

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Hope you have had a good day. Am delighted to say the February edition of Mom’s Favorite Reads is now out, with new editor in chief, Wendy H Jones at the helm. Now this year is the Year of the Rabbit so you may wonder how I could have written my flash fiction column and set a challenge around that. If you want to find out, turn to page 66 – see the link below – and do check out the rest of the magazine. It is a fabulous, free read – what’s not to like?

Screenshot 2023-01-31 at 16-15-23 Mom's Favorite Reads eMagazine February 2023

Had a wonderful time at Pinocchio, the pantomime staged by The Chameleon Theatre Group over the last week or so. I’ll be reviewing this for Chandler’s Ford Today later this week. All great fun!

Don’t forget my author newsletter is due out again on Wednesday. If you’d like to sign up do head over to my landing page at https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com

Hope to have news of a potential interview soon. Looking forward to that.

Writing Tip: An outline doesn’t have to be chapter and verse. Often, especially with a flash piece, a couple of lines as to character, trait, situation is enough. Example below.

Character: Older lady.
Trait: Pride
Situation: Faces something where she has to ask for help, though she really doesn’t want to do so.

That is enough to give me the “bare bones” of a potential story. I will then have fun filling in the gaps but it is a great way to start a potential tale and the lovely thing with this approach is when you have the odd couple of minutes, it still gives you time to jot something like this down for working on later.

 

It’s my turn on the More than Writers blog, the Association of Christian Writers blog spot. This time I talk about Keeping Going, an apt topic for what can seem like the longest month of the year! (Sometimes you have to laugh at your own typos – when I first typed the last sentence, it came out as longest moth of the year!).

Hope you find the post useful and encouraging.

Screenshot 2023-01-29 at 08-03-06 Keeping Going by Allison Symes

Am off to see Pinocchio as performed by our wonderful local amateur drama company, The Chameleon Theatre Group, later tonight so am posting early. Review to follow on Chandler’s Ford Today in due course. Later, there will be more fabulous author interviews to come as well.

Many of the fairytales make for wonderful pantomimes of course and I think one reason is that the themes of these appeal to a wide age range. Pinocchio is about acceptance. Most of us will identify with the need for that. Even at a very young age, you do even if you can’t articulate it. And that is a massive factor in why fairytales will always be timeless.

May be an image of text that says "The classic fairytales call classicfairytalescalloutevil out evil for what it is and reflect our behaviour. They don't flatter!"

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Many thanks for the views in already on Character Missing In Action, my latest YouTube video. Also thanks for the views in on Bigger and Better, my video from last week. Now my author newsletter is out again tomorrow and I do include all the links to my Youtube and Friday Flash Fiction tales as part of this. I also share news, tips, writing advice etc. If you’d like to sign up do head over to my landing page at https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com for more.


It’s Monday. The evenings are slowly getting lighter in my part of the world – hooray! There are signs of spring emerging. Still time for a story here and this one, I think will particularly appeal to the writers. Hope you enjoy Character Missing In Action.

 

Slowly getting warmer out there and it is nice to have a bit more daylight each day. I was listening to an interesting snippet on Classic FM where talk turned briefly to missing jigsaw pieces and how only one missing piece can spoil the whole thing.

Well, the same is true for story writing and the missing “bits” show up even more sharply in flash fiction with its maximum word count of 1000 words. So what do I mean by “bits” here? Simple!

1. You must have an intriguing character. I define intriguing here as being where a reader must read to find out what happens to said character. Your reader can’t look away until they reach the end.

2. You must have a proper beginning, middle, and end. Flash fiction isn’t truncated prose. Something has to happen. Something has to be resolved. There has to be a turning point roughly in the middle.

3. The ending must be satisfactory given the nature of the character and the storyline. Doesn’t necessarily have to be a happy ending.

Now I’ve talked before about being inspired by overhearing bits of conversation. That’s exactly what has happened for me today with this post. I never thought I’d be inspired by a Classic FM presenter to trigger today’s Facebook post but there you go!

May be an image of text that says "A framework is my road map for my story. It stop me going off at unhelpful tangents which would only need to be cut out later."

Hope you have had a good day. Glad to say my order for my flash fiction collections arrived yesterday – very prompt. Always love opening parcels like that! Also nice to have to top up on stocks…

Have revamped my business card a bit and ordered in some other bits I hope I will put to good use at later book events.

I like all kinds of story collections as you might expect. They are a great way to try out works by authors new to you and I am pleased to recommend the Bridgetown Cafe Bookshop as a place to start hunting out some fab collections to try.
Screenshot 2023-01-31 at 20-40-11 The Bridgetown Café Bookshop

Goodreads Author Blog – Book Deliveries

I recently took stock of a delivery of copies of my two flash fiction collections. Always a joy to top up on stocks and to open parcels like that. I love book deliveries, also for when I am buying in other authors’ works. Those parcels are joy to open too!

I’ve never envied Santa for his sleigh round. There will be a lot of books on there – and they’re heavy. Maybe that explains the need for millions of mince pies!

I do, of course, visit book shops (not as often as I’d like. Mind you, this may be a good thing to (a) help my bank balance and (b) you might need a crow bar to get me out of the shop).

But however you get your books, the important thing is to enjoy them. I like to read widely in and out of my genre (including non-fiction) as that helps me inspire with my own writing. How?

Simply in that an odd line here or there will spark off an idea for a situation I could put my characters into and then have fun working out how they get out of it again, assuming they do. Also the odd fact can spark ideas for a character.

And the best reason of all to enjoy books? Simply because reading is fun.

Screenshot 2023-01-28 at 17-58-56 Book Deliveries
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MOM’S FAVORITE READS – CHECK OUT THE MAGAZINE INCLUDING MY FLASH FICTION COLUMN HERE –

Screenshot 2023-01-31 at 20-50-46 Mom's Favorite Reads eMagazine February 2023

Workshop News and Key Story Ingredients

Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated with many created in Book Brush. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes.
Still very cold in my part of the world. One nice thing about running a Zoom workshop (which I will be doing on 25th January) is you get to stay indoors!

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Another bitterly cold day today but Lady got to show off in front of her Hungarian Vizler friend today so she was happy enough!

Looking forward to running the Association of Christian Writers Flash Fiction group on Zoom tomorrow. Those taking part in it live hundreds of miles apart so we never could get together in person but Zoom has made groups like this possible.

I’ve used Zoom to help me get my timings right for stories which have then been broadcast on North Manchester FM. It means I know for sure I am coming in at under the maximum time allowed. And it has been a lifeline for catching up with family as well. So yes I am a big fan of the app here.

I also love in person workshops and it is a good thing, I think, to try and have the best of both worlds.

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Hope you have had a good start to the working week. Still bitterly cold here. Will be talking about Classic Stories for Chandler’s Ford Today later on this week – will share the link on Friday. (And many thanks for all the comments which have come in over my interview with June Webber last week. Much appreciated all round!).

Many thanks also for the fabulous comments coming in on Reasons, my most recent Friday Flash Fiction tale. This is one of my darker tales but I hope you enjoy it.
Screenshot 2023-01-20 at 09-27-41 Reasons by Allison Symes

Had a lovely time at the workshop yesterday. Many thanks, everyone, for making me so welcome.

Looking forward to the Association of Christian Writers Flash Fiction group meeting on Zoom on Wednesday and going to see The Chameleon Theatre Group perform Pinocchio on Saturday. It will be a lively week!

Have been busy sorting out some of my writing admin today – need to get in more business cards etc and book orders too. This kind of admin is a joy to do though – I can literally see the end product! And don’t forget if you would like a copy of either or both of my flash fiction collections, you can get them from me by contacting me through the contact form on my website (link below). Naturally there are the usual other online outlets here but I can sign the books for you if you get them directly from me!

Contact

 

Am on my way to run a flash fiction workshop in London. Looking forward to that though today’s trip is a mixture of trains, tubes, and replacement bus services thanks to the landslide at Hook. This is on the main route to London.

I don’t know if you’ve seen pictures of this but the damage done by the landslide is seriously scary with tracks in mid-air etc! Hope and pray this is sorted well and as quickly as possible given the circumstances (shouldn’t be either/or here!).

Was delighted to hear of a book sale of Tripping The Flash Fantastic to a local fellow dog walker yesterday. Always lovely news that!☺

Many thanks for the lovely comments coming in on social media re my interview with June Webber for Chandler’s Ford Today which went live yesterday.

More author interviews to come in due course but June proves it is never too late to write and be published. I find that enormously encouraging.

Update: had a fabulous time at the workshop. Everyone was so welcoming. I hope you all have fun writing up the story ideas generated.

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Many thanks for the views coming in on Bigger and Better, my latest tale on YouTube. See below. Also thanks for the great comments in on Reasons, my newest story on Friday Flash FictionLink and image further up.

I like to mix up the way I come up with themes for my stories and do this by using different random generators, proverbs, overhead snippets of conversation, themes which will never date (there will always be places for ghost stories, love stories etc), odd things which catch my eye in the news/on social media etc.

I then think of which characters could best serve those themes and look at why they would. Then I start drafting when I know my character, who has this quality, that fault etc., would be the best for this tale. And I relish writing that draft. It should be fun!

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It’s Monday. It’s icy cold. It’s dark. It has been a hectic Monday. Definitely time for a story then. My latest on YouTube is called Bigger and Better – hope you enjoy it.

 

Had a lovely time running a flash fiction workshop in London yesterday. It is always a joy to share the joys of writing flash and why it is useful for all writers, regardless of whether someone makes it their main creative form or not. I discovered the form having been writing short stories for some time. I hadn’t even heard of flash when I first started out but I’ve never regretted this happy writing accidental discovery!

Many thanks for the lovely comments coming in on Friends, my recent Friday Flash Fiction story. The feedback from this site is great. Do check the site out and, in case you missed my tale first go around, do see the link below. Especially pleased to repeat this one as it is an acrostic story, which are always fun to write, and the comments have been wonderful.

Screenshot 2023-01-13 at 09-32-23 Friends by Allison SymesWhen I enter any kind of writing competition, I assume “nothing doing” if there is no notification from the organisers within two months of the closing date.

I then have another look at my story, revise it (sometimes it is just the odd word or two here), and then send it on elsewhere. I have had flash and short stories then go on to be published.

It isn’t a question of major rewrites for the revision process here. I would’ve written and edited the original as good as I could do before entering the competition. But having the gap of a couple of months means I’m looking at the story again with fresh eyes and there nearly always is something I can tweak and make better. So I do!

I do judge competitions sometimes and know a story can be fine but then one comes in which simply takes your breath away and that must be the one to win. And different things trigger that take your breath away moment for different judges.

Moral of this? Never be afraid to revise your stories and send them out elsewhere.

Goodreads Author Blog – Key Story Ingredients

All successful stories, for me, have to contain key ingredients. Doesn’t matter if these are flash fiction, short stories, novellas, or novels, I think they all need to have the following ingredients in them.

1. Characters you care about and want to root for. Sometimes it can be rooting for a villain to fail.

2. Twists and turns so you have to keep reading to find out what happens.

3. A feeling of having had a fantastic reading experience when you finish the story. Points 1 and 2 are crucial here.

4. For a novel/novella series, there needs to be continual character development so you can see how they change and grow over the series. You can do likewise on a smaller scale for linked flash/short stories.

5. Understanding of the dilemmas the characters face and enjoying finding out how they deal with these.

What would be key ingredients for you?

Screenshot 2023-01-21 at 21-25-05 Key Story Ingredients

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MOM’S FAVORITE READS LINK – CHECK OUT THE MAGAZINE INCLUDING MY FLASH FICTION COLUMN HERE.

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Interviews and Ideas

Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated with many created in Book Brush. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes.
Brrr… it has turned very cold again where I am with temperatures plummeting well below zero. Dog is wondering why Mum has speeded up the walking a bit! There are some signs of spring though. Have seen first catkins out.

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Now I’m looking forward to sharing a great interview with June Webber on Chandler’s Ford Today on Friday, but there is another use for interview questions, which fiction writers may well find useful. I’ve mentioned before I like to know my characters and will often interview them. Why not take an interview question you come across and get your character to answer it?

One of my favourites to ask my interviewees to name their three favourite authors and briefly say why they’ve chosen them. Now that gives insight into my interviewees’ taste in books but also at what influences their writing.

For your characters, go on to think a bit more about why they’ve chosen what they have. What do these choices say about them?

Are you surprised by their choices and, if so, work out what that is, as the more you know your characters, the easier you will find it to write their stories up with conviction. When I read a story, I want to be convinced the author knows their character inside out. I think something of that does come across in the way the story is told.

 

Brrr… the cold snap is back. Lady did get to play with her best buddy, the lovely Rhodesian Ridgeback, today but we mere human owners kept our girls running so we kept moving too! Am so thankful writing is an indoors job!

Next couple of Saturdays will be busy. I’m off to London for my workshop this week and the following week I’m off to the local panto, Pinocchio, as performed by The Chameleon Theatre Group. I expect lots of laughs from the latter – review to follow for Chandler’s Ford Today in due course. (It was nice when I was booking my ticket here they ask you where you found out about the show and Chandler’s Ford Today was listed as an option. That did make me smile and naturally I did tick that option!).

Every so often something nice and unexpected comes along. I was swimming recently, and having a much needed breather, had a chat with the lifeguard as it was quiet. I’d had a long swim (100 lengths – I impressed myself), having swam for about about two hours.

Anyway, they wanted to know who I worked for given I was effectively having a two hour lunch break. I mentioned I was a writer and they were impressed with that. They were even more impressed when I mentioned having books out! Naturally I got to put the word out about what I write too and explain a little about what flash fiction is – I can but hope for a sale here! Mind you, they’ll have to wait for me to be out of the pool before I sign any books for them!

Allison Symes - Flash Fiction Collections

Looking forward to sharing a lovely interview with friend and fellow Swanwicker, June Webber, for Chandler’s Ford Today, later on this coming week. June is a great example of it never being too late to be published so I hope people will find her story encouraging. I know I do!

Don’t forget I send out an author newsletter on the first of the month. If you’d like to sign up for tips, news, story links etc., head over to (my landing page at) https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com

Am hoping to have broadcast news again soon – keep your fingers crossed! Will share when I can.

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Hope you’ve had a good day. Weather grotty again here. Many thanks for the wonderful responses to my acrostic story, Friends, which appeared on Friday Flash Fiction yesterday. Link here if you missed it first go.Looking forward to running my flash fiction workshop next Saturday for an ACW affiliated group. These are always good fun and it is great to be out and about again.

I remember being very nervous when I first went to a writers’ event. Think I was having a bad case of Imposter Syndrome at the time but am so glad it went as I ended up meeting the person who was to go on to become my publisher at it. And when I realised networking means talking about writing and listening to fellow authors who share your love of writing also talking about the same topic and as a result you have an instant conversation going, the fears went.

Screenshot 2023-01-13 at 09-32-23 Friends by Allison Symes

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Flash fiction writing has helped me lose all fear of editing and has also made me stop and work out just what is it about this character that makes me feel I’ve got to write their story up. (All characters should make you feel something). It also makes me work out well just what is the story and focus on that alone. Two excellent reasons to give it a go – and I’ve found it has helped me with the other writing I do – short stories and blogging.

May be an image of text that says "With flash fiction, you have to focus on THE single most important aspect of your character's life"

16th January
I don’t know about today being Blue Monday. I do know it’s Very Cold Monday where I am. I also know it’s time for a story. Hope you enjoy my latest on YouTube – Why Am I Here? Even a “deep” question can lead to story ideas!

 

I deliberately mix up the random generators I use for triggering story ideas. It’s fun to have a variety of ways into which I can get into a story. Also I don’t want to be relying on just one or two anyway. Well, you ever know what kind of writing exercises you’ll be set at a workshop so it helps to know you can produce a story to prompts produced in different ways so you are ready for all of that.

Having said that, the ideas I hope to write up for submission this week come from odd turns of phrase I’ve either come across or used in my own Facebook posts recently and I had the old light bulb moment and thought I could produce a story here. So be open to having a number of ways in which you trigger ideas. It does pay.

May be an image of text that says "You're "fizzing" with ideas? Great. Just get them down. Sharpen them later."Sometimes good themes will occur to me as I am writing something else so I note the ideas down and then go on to write some flash fiction to those themes later. This is the Murphy’s Law of Writing in full flow here. It doesn’t matter what you write but an idea for something else will crop up as you’re trying to get to grips with what you’re trying to complete. Best to go with the flow then and have a way or ways to jot down those ideas.

I know not to rely on my memory here. Why is it you can always remember the hundreds of things you have to do around the home etc but can’t recall the one great idea that occurred to you at an inconvenient time? And I suspect there could be a flash fiction story in a character discovering the truth of this for themselves! (Have just followed my own advice and noted this down for another time!).

May be an image of text that says "? alt en option CREATE return Good idea but how? One way is use themes from stories you love and then see what you can do with that same theme."

Goodreads Author Blog – Book Recommendations

Where do you get book recommendations from? Yes, I get some from Goodreads, but I would say my main source for these is from fellow authors. And there is, to my mind, nothing better than going to a book/writing event and having a good look at what is on offer at the book table. I nearly always come back with purchases!

I do look at reviews on Amazon and the like but am not necessarily swayed by them. Having said that, if there are lots of bad reviews, and the reviewers are pretty much saying the same thing, then I will sit up and take notice. Likewise, if good reviews are saying similar things, I will take note. (I like to see the reasons why someone likes a book so if there is a comment about the characterisation, I will take immediate notice given characters for me are the driving force behind what makes a story work or fail).

Screenshot 2023-01-14 at 21-32-17 Book Recommendations


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The Writing Life and The First Day

Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated, many created via Book Brush. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes. Another wet week of “walkie” sessions with the dog since I last posted. She dries off quicker than I do! Starting to spot spring bulbs sending shoots up though, which is lovely.

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Last Tuesday, Lady and I, by the end of the day, looked like bedraggled rats. This Tuesday we’re looking more like mildly moist mice! I guess we’re heading the right way.

Have booked my train ticket for the workshop I’m going to be running later this month. Really looking forward to doing that. I love going to workshops too and alway learn so much from them. Looking forward to booking my train tickets for The Writers’ Summer School, Swanwick later on in the year too.

Part of my reading “diet” includes the writing magazines because, as well as competitions I might enter, I find out more about the industry and that is always worth doing. And you never know when a bit of advice which isn’t useful to you right now proves to be very helpful indeed later on in your writing journey. It happens. It has happened to me a number of times.

May be an image of text that says "WHAT'S NEXT Good question! One thing I've learned 1S the writing journey is a continual one."

Hope you had a good day. Lady got to play with her two best girlfriends today and we didn’t get soaked so both of us considered that to be a win! Looking forward to running a flash workshop later this month. I do set exercises as part of my workshops and the advantage of these is they help illustrate the points being made. Also later you can finish these off at home and I hope go on to submit them somewhere.

People do take different approaches to the same theme. I discovered how true this was when I was one of the winners three years in a row for the Waterloo Arts Festival Writing Competition. We all had to write to the same theme and word count yet 15 different winning authors took very different approaches to the topic set. That was enlightening for me! It was also encouraging because a good theme, open to interpretation, should spark off plenty of ideas.

May be an image of ‎text that says "‎زایS I've found writing exercises incredibly useful for recharging my stock of story ideas.‎"‎

Lady and I got a bit of a soaking earlier – she dries quicker than I do! I’ll be looking at some Writing Pitfalls for my next Chandler’s Ford Today post – link up on Friday. Am also looking forward to taking part in another author’s blog – more details nearer the time as it is not until March but it is good to be in early!

Have also got a smashing interview lined up with a writer friend of mine showing publication can happen at any age. Really looking forward to sharing that. I do think it is one of the lovely things about writing – there is no retirement age. You can start writing at whatever age and publication can and does happen at any age. More on that nearer the time as well. Have been catching up with some blogging posts to appear later in the month as well.

Chandler's Ford Today post reminder picture(1)

Today has been more hectic than I’d have liked but I appreciate my time at the writing desk even more on days like these. Writing gives me time to be creative, to forget the other worries, and to invent characters and situations. On tiring days. I particularly like to get lots of “little bits” done such as finishing off a blog post, finding suitable pics for it and so on. On days when I’ve got more time, that’s when I get the word count up significantly.

I find you do have to go with the flow and everyone has days when the flow is slow or has been temporarily dammed. It helps to focus on the word “temporarily” here. There will be better writing days. Sticking with writing and accepting some days are worse than others in terms of what you get done is an underrated attribute but one I think all writers need to develop.

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Looking forward to running my first flash fiction workshop of the year later on this month and to meeting up again with the Association of Christian Writers Flash Fiction Group not long after that. I often prepare PowerPoint presentations for the latter. It’s funny how I hadn’t used PowerPoint in years but with the growth in the use of Zoom, it has come into its own again. Good fun to do and easy to share if you want to do so.

I believe the growth in flash fiction has come about as a result of people reading more on screens – the very short form of writing is ideal for this. Flash may be short but it needs as much crafting and editing as any other form of writing – loads in other words! This is why I’ll get a story down, rest it, go and write some more tales, then come back to the first one.

Then and only then can I see how I can make it better and there is always room for improving a tale. What can be tricky sometimes is working out when enough is enough on the editing. At some point you have to let your story “out there” and see how it does. This is where deadlines are handy. They make you do this!

BookBrushImage-2023-1-10-20-5043It’s Monday. It’s still dark far too early out there. It’s cold. It’s been a tough, busy day. It’s Monday. And it’s time for my YouTube story. My latest is called Friends. Hope you enjoy it. (Short and sweet this one).

 

Hope you have had a good day. How easy do you find coming up with titles for your flash pieces? I use a variety of ways for this. I use random generators as those can often spark title ideas. I use proverbs sometimes directly as a title, sometimes as inspiration for a title (especially if I want to “subvert” a common phrase as I did with my story Punish The Innocent). I like to keep my titles relatively short (though there are always exceptions to any rule. It is just that most of the time shorter titles are easier to recall).

May be an image of text that says "Jotting down ideas for future stories, blog posts etc., is a great thing to do when you're short on time. Latr tired and uninspired, you can come back to those ideas and find something you like the look ofto to write up."

Many thanks, everyone, for the lovely comments coming in on my first story for 2023 for Friday Flash Fiction, The First Day. It was nice to start with New Year with a feel good tale. Looking forward to my “flash fiction Sunday” tomorrow which is when I get a lot of flash written.
Screenshot 2023-01-06 at 09-18-42 The First Day by Allison Symes

Goodreads Author Blog – Book Blurbs

I must admit it is the book cover which draws me to a book (whether it is online or via a bookshop unless I know of the author. Know I like their work, can’t wait to snap up the next they bring out etc). But after that it is the book blurb which draws me into buying the book or leaving it on the shelf. I like something crisp and snappy to lure me in but they’re not the easiest things to write. You can be sure what you see on the book is the result of several drafts!

But the end result is usually well worth it. Every writer needs to be able to sum up their book in a line (as it gives you something to tell people without going on for too long – and that is an art still).

Sometimes I’ve come across quizzes and the like where you have to guess the book from the blurb that’s been given to you and that can be fun.

As a flash fiction writer having to stick to a tight word count, I guess I may have an advantage here. Writing tight can help you produce those blurbs or at least be less nervous of coming up with something short and snappy.

Screenshot 2023-01-07 at 20-42-44 Book Blurbs

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When Is A Story Finished?

Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated (with many created in Book Brush). Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes.
Happy New Year to you all! Hope you had a lovely Christmas. And now back on with the writing… it is always a pleasure to come back to it too.

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Lady and I spent a lot of today getting wet – not great weather here today. Am looking forward to going to The Chameleon Theatre Group’s next production, Pinocchio, later this month. Oh yes I am!

When is a story finished? When the writer is happy with it?

Possibly but for me a more important consideration is to ask myself if my characters have fulfilled the premise of the story so there really is nothing left for them to do or say. Does the ending deliver on the promise of the beginning?

Would I enjoy this story if someone else had written it instead of me? (That’s a good question to ask because you put yourself in the head of your Ideal Reader doing that and so you ask yourself does the twist work? Am I gripped so I have to read to the end?).

Then and only then am I likely to be happy with the tale and consider it ready to go out there, having of course rested my story, edited it, and got rid of the inevitable typo that has somehow escaped my attention until now! There always is one… writer usually sighs heavily at this point!

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Hope you have had a good day. Lady got to see her Hungarian Vizler friend today so that made her happy. She was less impressed with the fireworks though given the weather was dreadful last night, we had fewer of them this time.

I’ll be looking at Diaries and Letters for my Chandler’s Ford Today post this week. Looking forward to sharing that on Friday as it’s a topic I’ve wanted to write about for a while.

It was nice getting back to my “flash fiction Sunday afternoon” writing slot yesterday. Will be sharing my latest YouTube video shortly over on my book page – https://www.facebook.com/fairytaleladyallisonsymes/

 

1st January – New Year’s Day

Happy New Year! I caught a little bit of the London celebrations on social media and loved the tribute to the Queen and the coins changing from the Queen to the King. Thought that was nicely done.

Lady loved the Pet Classics show on Classic FM yesterday. Found it very soothing – as did I. Nice way to end the old year as was getting to catch up with a couple of Swanwick friends on Zoom.

Slowly getting back into my writing routine again though I know it will be a day or two before I am fully up to speed. Mind you, it would help to remember what day of the week it is. I find it comforting to know it isn’t just me for that during this time just after Christmas and now. I did remember to get my author newsletter out today though so that counts as a win!

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31st December 2022 – New Year’s Eve

Happy New Year! I hope 2023 proves to be a blessing and you enjoy lots of good books and stories, old and new. The lovely thing with stories is the vast majority of them are timeless. I look forward to re-readings and finding books new to me.

Author newsletter out tomorrow though I can promise it won’t be on the stroke of midnight. I take the view the New Year can see itself in without me!

Have a lovely time if you’re off celebrating. Lady and I will be listening to Pet Classics on Classic FM. Nice soothing music – just the ticket for us!

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

I did manage to get a story in for a flash competition ahead of the end of the old year.

In between competitions, as well as writing for Friday Flash Fiction and my YouTube channel, I will draft stories with a reasonably open theme or a topic I know is bound to come up at some point. These drafts are never wasted. I will find a home for them during the next twelve months at some point. It is good to have a stock of stories for this kind of use.

I can and do often go through past stories which didn’t make it to see if there is anything further I can do with them. Sometimes I can then get these out again and find a home for them on a second attempt.

BookBrushImage-2023-1-3-20-3358Glad to be back to writing flash fiction again after the Christmas break. Hope you enjoy my latest on YouTube – Another Job. Proof I think delivery people are always needed.

1st January – New Year’s Day

Happy New Year! Hope you managed to get some reading in over Christmas. I’m just getting back into writing again and am looking forward to resuming writing flash later today. Will be good to get tales in for submission again.

Sometimes I know what theme I’m writing to immediately for a story (it’s usually a competition with a set theme). Many times, I don’t and that’s when I’ll use the random generators to help me trigger a theme of interest to me. Hope I can find some new generators to use this year – there are loads out there. (And do remember even with your favourite ones, you can adjust the parameters on many of them so just doing that will trigger even more ideas for you).

Hope you have a fantastic writing year.

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31st December 2022 – New Year’s Eve

Happy New Year! Time often crops up in my flash tales, sometimes as a character too. Given flash is all about a specific moment in time for a character, it is apt time often features as a theme.

What do your characters make of time? Do they adjust to the passing of time well? Definitely story ideas there!

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Goodreads Author Blog – New Books for a New Year

My New Year reading will begin with the books I received at Christmas. I have got off to a good start already but am glad to say I have plenty of reading to do!

In the next year I hope to discover books and authors new to me, as well as enjoy old favourites. It will be fun!

I will continue my reading policy of novels, novellas, ebooks, short story and flash fiction collections, and magazines. Also to enjoy audio books and stories via films. This is the nearest I get to a New Year’s resolution, folks!

Happy New Year!

Screenshot 2022-12-31 at 19-58-04 New Books For A New Year


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Positives and Negatives

Image Credits:- All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Many created via Book Brush. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots as ever were taken by me, Allison Symes.
I hope you have had a lovely Christmas. This is a round up of my posts from Christmas Eve until now. Loved having some time off (and especially with catching up with friends, family, and favourite films) but it is also good to be back writing again. Happy New Year to you all.

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Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

30th December 2022
A bit later than usual tonight, I admit, but it is with great pleasure I share my last Chandler’s Ford Today post for the year. Aptly, I look at Positives and Negatives. Hope you enjoy the post and a big thank you for the great comments coming in on this one already.

Positives and Negatives

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29th December – More Than Writers
It’s my turn on the More Than Writers spot, the blog from the Association of Christian Writers. To wrap up the old year nicely as we rapidly approach the new one, I look at New Directions.

I look at being willing to try new writing directions and I encourage setting writing goals. Nothing is set in stone here (only the Ten Commandments ever were!) but it is useful to know where you would like to head. I’ve found setting some ideas down means I am more likely to achieve them (or at least get close to doing so). Hope you enjoy the post.

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28th December
Hope you have a lovely Christmas break (and are continuing to enjoy the season). It has been great catching up with family and friends and favourite films. Am also loving having more time to read but it is also nice to be back writing again.

I’m looking at Positives and Negatives for my end of year post for Chandler’s Ford Today. Link up on Friday. See above. My next blog round up on my website will also be out on Friday (right here in fact!) with my next author newsletter out on 1st January. If you’d like to sign up for that do head over to my landing page at https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com

Also looking forward to tonight’s gathering of the Association of Christian Writers Flash Fiction Group on Zoom. Will be nice to have a chat and sharing of festive flash fiction.

25th to 27th December – no posts but had a lovely time. Hope you did too.

24th December 2022
Hope your Christmas preparations are going/have gone well. Have loved listening to the wonderful Christmas music on Classic FM today. I’ll be signing off for a couple of days before resuming writing next week. I hope you have plenty of books as part of your presents this year!

Have a lovely Christmas and many thanks for all the support for my posts etc throughout the year. Much appreciated.

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

30th December 2022
Hope you have had a good day. I was talking about Positives and Negatives as my end of year post for Chandler’s Ford Today this week.

But it struck me you could take the idea of positives and negatives and use them to create stories for your characters.

You could create a positive story for Character A and follow it up with a more negative one (or vice versa).

You could have a “need to be redeemed” story as the negative tale and the “being redeemed” story as your positive one, all based on the same character.

You can also have positive and negative characters in conflict with each other – which one will win out?

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29th December
It was lovely seeing everyone at the Association of Christian Writers Flash Fiction group meeting on Zoom last night. We shared festive flash and writing thoughts/tips. Great fun and a lovely way to wrap up the year.

One thing I mentioned last night was that festive flash is about the only seasonal writing I do (because it’s fun, best reason of all!). The nice thing with any kind of seasonal writing though is you can prepare for these events all year around. I will often draft festive flash pieces during the summer and autumn for instance. You know these events will always come around so you can make use of that.

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28th December
Hope you have had a lovely Christmas and are continuing to enjoy the season. Hope you had plenty of books in your presents, including flash fiction collections!

I hope to start sending in stories again to Friday Flash Fiction from next week. One thing I’d like to achieve in the coming year is to enter more flash competitions than I did this year. I would certainly have a go at Flash NANO again. Loved that.

Writing a flash tale a day helps keep writer’s block at bay, anyone?

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25th to 27th December – no posts but had a lovely time. Hope you did too.

24th December
Time for a quick Christmas flash tale. Hope you enjoy the following, Being There.

 

Fairytales With Bite – A New Year, A New Start

A new year can be a great time to make a new start but how would your characters do that? Why would they need to make a new start? If they’re magical, what have they done to make a new start desirable? (Good comic potential here).

Of course there are characters who don’t realise they do need a new start. (Scrooge didn’t think he did before the ghosts turned up). Who would be the one to bring this to their attention and how does your main character take this? There would be good potential for comedy or tragedy if they don’t react well.

In the case of a character with power, if they decide to make a new start, whose benefit is it for? Are they accepting the needs for beneficial reforms or are they trying to take rights away? A new start isn’t always a good thing!

Also, are they using the New Year as a convenient time for them (people may not be paying full attention after all) or is there another reason for making a new start now? Are they trying to head off further problems by making a new start “early” or have they left it too late?

AE - July 2021 - Whether you love or loathe the characters, they should make you feel something

This World and Others – Keeping Time

How does your setting keep time? Do they use the same system of seconds, minutes, hours, day, weeks, months, and years as we do? We base our calendar on twelve months but if your world bases theirs on a ten month system what is the reason for that? Are your characters dominated by time? (They might not be if they’re immortal or have something close to immortality so how would they get on with species where time is a matter of life and death?).

As for timekeeping, do your characters run to time or are they notoriously late? Does this land them in it? How do people tell the time? What are their time pieces like? I must admit I love looking at pictures of old time pieces (especially pocket watches which come up on the antiques programmes every so often. I am taken aback by the beauty of these things and how exquisitely they’re made. The craftsmanship is amazing. Does your setting have craftsman like that and how did they learn their trade? How is time kept? Is it accurate?).

Could another character use someone’s obsession with time against them and, if so, how? Could time prove to be deadly to a character? If you portray Time as a character, what is their role in your setting? Are they controlled by anyone else? What would happen if Time was allowed to do as he/she/it liked? Are there boundaries for Time?

Story ideas there, I think!

Characters need time to work out their next move
Goodreads Author Blog – Christmas and Books

I hope you end up with plenty of new books as Christmas presents this year. It is especially comforting to read when in the depths of winter. All you need to go with that new book is a lovely mug of hot chocolate. Perfect reading conditions! Christmas is the perfect time to give and receive new books. (And it always pays to keep the hot chocolate in!).

I hope the New Year will see plenty of interesting new books to investigate. I’ve submitted my own third flash fiction collection for consideration so am keeping fingers crossed for that one. Would love to see that out in 2023.

Whatever your choice of reading material, I hope you have a lovely Christmas and get plenty of reading done. Let’s hear it for the hardbacks, the paperbacks, the e-books, the novellas, the novels, the short story and flash fiction collections, and the non-fiction selections. Let’s read!

Happy Christmas!

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Broadcast News and Stories in Song

Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Many thanks to Hannah Kate for kind permission to use the Three Minute Santas photo. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes.
Weather turning cold again here. Christmas preparations going okay but still much to do! Still time for stories and writing though….!

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Facebook – General

Posting early today as am off out to my church’s Carols by Candlelight village sing-along later. It’s a lovely informal event with plenty of Christmas cracker jokes in between the singing. Last time we held this event was in the week of Christmas 2019. It is so good to have this back!

Those who follow the Friday Flash Fiction website – look out for the results of the Christmas competition soon. Normal submissions will resume in the New Year I would’ve thought. (Please note the normal submissions button isn’t there at the moment on the understandable grounds the editor needs time to count up the votes for the competition and get the results out!). I’m preparing pieces to submit in January to give myself a bit of a head start here – always useful to get some drabbles written!

I did get my submission in for the Writing Magazine Grand Flash Prize a while back, following my own advice to take some time off the official closing date. Good luck to all who have or are about to have a go at this one – deadline is the end of the year.

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Hope you have had a good start to Christmas week. Looking forward to sharing my Festive Flash and Other News post for Chandler’s Ford Today on Friday. There will be a couple of new flash pieces in there from me plus I take a look back at some highlights from my writing year.

Will start winding down on the writing for a few days from Saturday. Looking forward to doing plenty of reading over the Christmas break too.

I often use this time of year to ensure I’m up together with my blogs and have started drafting others for the start of the New Year. I don’t just keep a stock of stories to hand!

And I’m looking forward to a social evening on Zoom for the Association of Christian Writers Flash Fiction group later this month. It will be a nice way to wrap up our writing year there.

Am also getting my January newsletter ready. If you’d like to sign up for hints, advice, stories etc do head over to my landing page at https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com

 

It’s my turn on the Authors Electric blog today. This time I look at Stories in Song. The carols inspired me here as so many of them have a clear narrative but there are other songs which have long been favourites of mine due to their lyrical quality. See what you think via the link and do send in your favourite stories in songs in the comments.
Screenshot 2022-12-18 at 08-05-15 Stories in Songs by Allison Symes
Hope you have had a good day. Many thanks to Hannah Kate for including my story, First Night on The Round, on her Three Minutes Santas show on North Manchester FM today. Hope to be able to share a link soon but meantime you can use their Listen Again service to find the show.

Please note Hannah’s show is in two halves for the benefit of the Listen Again service. I’m first on for Part 1. Great fun listening to all of the other stories here too. Well done to everyone included in the show. And do check out festive flash fiction – it is great fun to write, read, and/or listen to bit don’t just take my word for it. Give it a listen here!

Part 1 here.

Part 2 here.

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Twist endings work especially well for flash fiction. The impact is greater given the restricted word count. I love writing humorous ones, the “character gets comeuppance” type, as well as the character coming up with something unexpected kind, which is not quite the same thing as getting their comeuppance.

In my George Changes His Mind from From Light to Dark and Back Again I end the tale with the dragon given their viewpoint on the proceedings. Great fun to do and a lovely “left field” ending to that tale!). So think about what you want your twist ending to do and how you want it to impact on your readers.

I do this and find writing this first, then working out what could lead to it works very well. It means I stick to the point and everything that proceeds before my big reveal has to make sense and be logical, even in the most fantastical of settings.

Framed Flash Collections

19th December – Second Post
Oops! Almost forgot to share my latest YouTube video. Hope you enjoy New Experiences.


It was lovely at the Carols by Candlelight service yesterday. First one since Christmas 2019. The singing was fantastic.
Do your characters like to sing and, if so, what would they sing? What songs have special resonance for them?

Resonance comes into my flash fiction too. I have to know where my characters come from to be able to write them up at all. Some of their attitudes and actions have got to resonate with me, even if I still don’t approve. You don’t necessarily need to like your characters. You do have to understand them to be able to get into their heads and so write up their tales though.

Have been doing a little admin in adding books to my website book page and my Book Brush Reader Hub. That’s a nice task – Evergreen – an Anthology is now on there. Plus I’ve notified ALCS and my Author Central page has been updated by Amazon. They are usually pretty quick to do that when you notify them.

Screenshot 2022-12-19 at 20-31-08 Reader Hub Book BrushScreenshot 2022-12-18 at 21-38-10 Allison Symes

A week to go to Christmas and I’ve enjoyed one pre-Christmas treat – re-watching The Muppet Christmas Carol. Fabulous film and to me one of the best adaptations of Dickens’s classic tale. Lots of lovely little moments as the film goes on (Miss Piggy giving Scrooge a piece of her mind is just one of them!) and, of course, little moments is what flash fiction is about. We focus on the single most important thing, which is a little like looking at the cameo and focusing on that rather than on taking in everything about the main film. (That’s the job of the novel!).

Writing flash fiction is a great exercise for any writer for another reason – it does make you focus on the single important thing and it can show you perspectives you might not have considered before. Later on this evening, I’m reading a wonderful poem called Shepherd by Lisa Debney for the Carols by Candlelight service at Abbey URC, Romsey.

The poem is lovely and it focuses on one viewpoint – that of the shepherd – but it shows a perspective I had not considered before I read this poem. (There can be some links between poetry and flash in that both forms need to use words to specific and deliberate effect and we are using the word count restrictions to their best advantage).

Flash Fiction focuses on THE important aspect of a character's life

My story on Three Minute Santas, hosted by Hannah Kate on North Manchester FM, was broadcast today. 17th December – and see links above.  For this submission, I had to submit a story which came in at a maximum of three minutes. So how to do it? Simple! I used Zoom to record myself reading my story, I ended the meeting with myself, and Zoom then turns the file into an mp4 file. Not only can I play it back to hear how it sounds, I’ve got the timing of my story right there!

Mine, First Night on the Round, came in about 2 minutes 50 seconds. When I first started writing, I used Audacity to play back stories of mine so I could check if the words flowed as well as I thought. Doing this is a great way of picking up on clunky dialogue etc. I see it as part of my editing process.

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Goodreads Author Blog – Santa’s Reading List

Now we all know many of the presents on Santa’s sleigh are books. (The rest I suspect would be chocolate, toys, socks, and stuff for pets!). But what would Santa himself want to read after all of those deliveries have been done or would like to read if the books existed? We all deserve to put our feet up with a good book after all. (He would have already read A Christmas Carol and The Nativity stories of course and would re-read them each year).

Lounging in the Sun – would make a change from his usual environment, yes?

How to Bake the Perfect Mince Pie – suspect he might leave this book as a present when what he is offered as refreshments is below par. Bound to come across the odd shoddy few.

Reindeer Management – What You Need to Know – wonder if he’ll find a cure for Rudolph’s red nose here.

Postman Pat – Any of these classic children’s stories would go down well with the great man. Would make a change to read stories from someone else with deliveries to sort out.

Getting Away From It All – You’d want to after dealing with the workload for another year.

The Haynes Guide to Sleigh Maintenance – The Haynes manuals are very well known especially in the UK. They even have one for the Star Trek Enterprise and the Millennium Falcon so why not do one for Santa’s sleigh?

Hope you have plenty of book shaped presents under your Christmas tree this year!

BookBrushImage-2022-12-20-21-336Screenshot 2022-12-17 at 20-27-00 Santa's Reading List

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Snow, Anthologies, and Broadcast News

Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes. Many thanks to Hannah Kate for kind permission to use her photo regarding Three Minute Santas. Very cold this week and have seen first lot of snow for the winter. Writers often talk about having “layers” to their characterisation. Right now, the one having layers around here is me!

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Facebook – General

Busy day. Bitterly cold one too. Lady had a great day though playing with her “boyfriend”, a lovely tri-coloured Aussie Shepherd. He had the perfect coat for this weather. I did go swimming today. How can you tell when it is really cold outside? When the pool water feels like you’re swimming in a warm bath. Trust me. The water isn’t like that!

Looking forward to sharing my post on Chandler’s Ford Today about the recent Bridge House Publishing celebration event. Such fun to go to that – and lovely to have it again after the turmoil of recent years cancelling it.

Chandler's Ford Today post reminder picture(1)

Have you made any writing plans for the New Year? I’m hoping to resume work on another long term project I’ve got in draft now I’ve submitted my third flash fiction collection to Chapeltown Books. Oh and I’ve booked for The Writers’ Summer School, Swanwick taking advantage of the Early Bird rate (which means I’ve paid the same as for this year’s event).

In the run up to 2023 though, I plan to continue to submit flash tales and blog posts but will slowly wind down as we reach Christmas Day. I’m looking forward to doing a lot of reading over the Christmas holidays too. And if the weather stays this cold, staying indoors to write and read seems like an even better idea than it already is!

Hope you have had a good Monday. Lady got to play with her best buddy, the Rhodesian Ridgeback, who looked very smart in her coat. I was wrapped up like the old Michelin Man. (It is not a good look!). Then their other friend joined us, the Hungarian Vizler, also looking very smart in her coat. Am so grateful writing is generally done indoors!

Broadcast News: Looking forward to sharing the link for Three Minute Santas on Hannah Kate’s show on North Manchester FM when I get the link. The show goes out on Saturday 17th December from 2pm and it is great fun listening to the variety of festive flashes here.

North Manchester FM: Hannah’s Bookshelf, Saturday 17 December, 2-4pm

Screenshot 2022-12-11 at 20-43-39 North Manchester FM Hannah's Bookshelf Saturday 17 December 2-4pm - Hannah Kate

3 Minute Santas

Had our first lot of snow today. Laid briefly too. Lady not too understanding about the fact Mum wanted to keep moving when we were out on our walks today. She wasn’t fazed at all. Mum on the other hand just wanted to keep as warm as possible. (Mind you I was doing a great impersonation of the old Michelin man – readers of a certain age will remember that one well. Let’s just say it isn’t a flattering look on anyone. I lost count of how many layers I had on!). The highest temperature reached in my part of the world was +1 and that was at midday.

Have put in my book request list for Christmas. (I don’t think I’m on Santa’s naughty list – well, I wasn’t the last time I checked – so am looking forward to book shaped presents under the tree in due course!). Have submitted my annual flash piece for a national competition so fingers crossed time again.

Don’t forget my latest story, Numbers, is up on Friday Flash Fiction.

Screenshot 2022-12-09 at 16-48-49 Numbers by Allison Symes

Hope you’ve had a good day. One benefit of raking up the leaves in front of my place is it does keep your warm! No snow in my part of the world but the frost is deep, crisp, and even.

Will be taking a look back at the recent Bridge House Publishing celebration event for Chandler’s Ford Today next week. Link up on Friday. After that I hope to write up my usual festive flash piece for CFT where I’ll also take a look back at my writing year. (I hope by then I’ll be able to share the link to the Hannah Kate Three Minute Santas show on North Manchester FM. That show goes out on Saturday 17th December).

Writing tip: I’ve mentioned having a stock of stories before. Certain themes always crop up in competitions – love, justice, crime, and so many more. So you could prepare stories on those themes knowing you are very likely to find a home for them. Also prepare other stories because there are a lot of “open” competitions around too. I often batch cook – it saves time overall. You can batch write too – same result in terms of time!

Also it pays to have another look at stories you haven’t placed. You’re likely to have had enough time away from these to be able to judge them objectively. Is there something you can now do with them that you weren’t able to see before? Always worth another look. I’ve gone on to have work published doing this.

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

I often use major traits to get into a character’s mindset. Someone who is honest – well I can then put them in situations where it would pay them to lie and see how they manage it.

Knowing the trait means I can then work out the situations they would find easy to handle and, far more interestingly, the ones they wouldn’t.

Minor traits feeding off the main one can also be great areas to explore. An honest person could be tactless as well. Why? Simply because they’re so honest they can’t tell even white lies when it would be kinder to do so. What kind of trouble could that land them in?

May be an image of text that says "Knowing my character's outlying traits means I can write about them more convincingly too."

Pleased to share my new YouTube story, Travelling Light. It is time for the Christmas puns to start! Hope you enjoy.


Hope you have had a good day (and kept warm – you can see why mulled wine is such a big hit at this time of year! Mind you, I prefer hot chocolate).

Got a flash piece off a for a competition and am looking forward to listening to Hannah Kate’s Three Minute Santas on 17th December. Her festive show on North Manchester FM is great fun and it is a joy to have a piece included in it again this year.

I like being able to set my characters anywhere and everywhere in flash and, of course, with festive flash, you can have great fun playing with the traditions in it. After all, Santa is known to have elves as assistants but what it they’re disgruntled with their lot etc? There is fun to be had in writing that kind of story up but you need to give thought as to what would make your elves feel this way and to how the problem here is resolved. It is what you bring to the mix here that makes your story stand out.

May be an image of sky and text that says "One advantage to flash fiction writing is I can set my characters anywhere. I do too!"

Themes for flash pieces (and often things like blog posts too) can be found via books of proverbs, random generators, and many other sources. Think of themes that would appeal to you and ask yourself why this is and can you do something with that topic for your own writing?

You can also think of themes which would appeal to your characters but not necessarily to you! Again have a look at why this might be and put yourself in your characters’ shoes. They will have good reasons for feeling the way they do about this theme.

This is where interviewing your characters is a great technique for getting to the bottom of why they feel the way they do. You do have to understand your characters. You don’t need to like them, just know where they’re coming from.

Goodreads Author Blog – Anthologies

I’ve been fortunate to be published in many anthologies including the most recent from Bridge House Publishing (Evergreen – an Anthology). It is great fun to write for these and it’s a privilege and pleasure when your story is selected.

I read anthologies too, regardless of whether my work is included or not, because I’m a firm believer in supporting the market I want to be in! Also, I want to mix up the kind of things I read. I read novels, novellas, flash, short stories, collections of the latter two categories, as well as magazines and the like. I want a good and varied reading “diet”.

Anthologies are a great way to find authors new to you and many either support charities or are produced by independent publishers who give more authors a voice. For many it is their way into being published at all. It was for me.

I also like varied moods in my stories (whether I read or write them) and in anthologies, you get this in one book so that’s another reason to love them. You can also work out the kind of writing style and mood you prefer by reading these. I tend to like a lighter touch. I’ve described my own collections as “mixed assortments” and this can apply to most anthologies too.

Even when on a single theme, you can be amazed at what the contributing authors have come up with for it. I’ve done this myself. For the Waterloo Arts Festival Writing Competition a while back, I had to write to a set word count on a set theme. Fifteen winners (including me) wrote to those stipulations but the way all of the authors took the topic was amazing.

I often use anthologies to read in between reading novels to make sure I do mix up my reading and to help me make up my mind which genre of novel I will read next.

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Allison Symes – Book Brush Reader Hub

Screenshot 2022-12-06 at 21-14-32 Reader Hub Book Brush

Seasonal Stories, Publication News, and a Lady With a Grudge

Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes. It is always great fun to come up with titles for my posts here. All of the above apparently unrelated topics are covered below! Hope you enjoy.BookBrushImage-2022-11-29-20-3957

Facebook – General

It’s my turn once again on More than Writers, the blog spot for the Association of Christian Writers. Aptly, now we are in Advent, I talk about Seasonal Stories. I talk about writing festive flash fiction and also the importance of planning well ahead for writing for the seasonal markets. I also look at what I love to read over the Christmas period.

Hope you enjoy your seasonal writing and reading.

 

Has been a very busy Monday. Am hoping for a less hectic Tuesday!

One nice task today though was to put in my order for my copies of Evergreen, the latest Bridge House Publishing book. More news on this below. I’m going to be picking up my copies at their celebration event in London on Saturday and am so looking forward to that. These events are always great fun. The event will also be celebrating The Best of CafeLit 11 which was out a little earlier this year.

Looking forward also to the Association of Christian Writers Flash Fiction group meeting on Wednesday this week.

And on Thursday, I send out my latest author newsletter.

Writing Tip: If you use the random generators to trigger story ideas, as I often do, make sure you mix up the ones you use. Firstly it’s not so much fun if you just stick to one or two. Secondly, other generators will stretch you. I didn’t think I could get stories out of the random number generator, for example, until I gave it a go.

 

Hope you have had a lovely Sunday. It’s Advent Sunday today and it was lovely to see the Christmas tree up in our church this morning.

Many thanks for the congratulations coming in on my story Never Old – Ever Green and Good To Go (a title which in many ways is my motto!) appearing in the new Bridge House Publishing anthology, Evergreen. Much appreciated, folks. Now you know what the publication news is in the title of this post!

Also thanks for the great response to my two part interview with Jenny Sanders on Chandler’s Ford Today recently.

Am glad to report I have another super author interview coming up this coming Friday, when I get to talk again to Scottish crime writer, Val Penny. Looking forward to sharing that on Friday. The theme will be “seconds” – it’s an interesting tag for this one.

Hope all who are taking part in Flash NANO are having a great time with it – I am. Can hardly believe we’re almost at the end of the month and the prompts.#

 

Am thrilled to say I am back in print again with a short story, Never Old – Ever Green and Good To Go, in the brand new anthology from Bridge House Publishing. This is called Evergreen – an Anthology and I am pleased to be between the covers again with familiar names and new authors. For more details see The Bridgetowncafe Bookshop link.

And well done, everyone, who has a story in here – the buzz of being published never diminishes. Nor should it!

Screenshot 2022-11-27 at 15-12-29 Evergreen eBook Multiple Hobbs-Wyatt Debz James Gill Amazon.co.uk Kindle Store

Screenshot 2022-11-26 at 17-10-44 Evergreen

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Many thanks for the views coming in on Judith, my latest YouTube story. It seems my lady with a grudge has some fans!

Don’t forget my author newsletter goes out on Thursday. My monthly newsletter is a great reminder of how quickly the year is flying.

Will be tackling another interesting challenge from Flash NANO later on. Am so pleased with how things have worked out here.

While my stories need further editing and polishing, to have 30 new stories in a month is great. Would I take part in this again? Oh yes.

May be an image of text that says "What I love about flash is, ike the camera, it makes you focus. WOOZ SN3T SIN"

28th November 2022 – Second post
Almost forgot to mention my new YouTube tale is now out there. See what you make of Judith – a lady with a grudge against… well I’ll leave you to find out! Hope you enjoy it!

28th November
Have selected the pieces I hope to read from From Light to Dark and Back Again and Tripping the Flash Fantastic for my London trip on Saturday. This is always a fun task!

Am working on a flash piece I hope to enter for a competition (deadline is the end of the year. I will aim to have it sorted and submitted in the next week or two as I always take time off any official deadline to give me time to make sure I haven’t missed anything and still get the story in on good time.

Good rule of thumb to remember here is it is okay for them to be late. It isn’t all right for you to be late! This is probably a hangover from my pre-driving days when I took the same view with buses – and rightly so too!).

May be an image of wrist watch and text that says "It's uncanny how quickly deadlines come around. DEADLINE 60 5 50 10 45 15 40 35 G 50 10 20 25 15 45 1/5"

Looking forward to a trip to London on Saturday when I go to the Bridge House Publishing event. Part of the celebrations here include reading stories and I hope to read two or three of my flash pieces here. The nice thing with flash is each story doesn’t take long and I like to mix up story length and mood. Also had fun packing my book bag ready for Saturday (well, I like to be ready for these things!).

Almost at the end of Flash NANO – hard to believe where the time has gone. I’ve got something for each of the challenges set and plenty of editing to do in December but that’s fine.

May be an image of screen, phone and text
Hope you have a good day. Am so pleased to have another publication credit (Never Old – Ever Green and Good To Go is my short story in Evergreen an Anthology published by Bridge House Publishing).

I am making good progress on the Flash NANO challenges – can’t believe the month has almost gone.

And am so looking forward to the Bridge House Publishing celebration event next Saturday. Will be good to see people again. Especially since this event has had to be cancelled due to Covid in the past, it will be so nice to meet up.

I’m getting my next author newsletter ready to go out on 1st December. I share flash information and tips here as well as my news. To sign up head over to the landing page at my website – https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com

Have also spent time today preparing a certain wish list for a certain festive event – books are included – surprise, surprise, not!

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Goodreads Author Blog – ‘Tis The Season To Buy Books!

The 27th November 2022 is Advent Sunday, the day the Church begins the countdown to Christmas. Certainly it is at about this time of year I get present lists up together and books are very much included here! It is a joy to select books for others as well as giving my family a wish list for books I’d like to have.

Okay, you can always tell a book-shaped present for what it is under the Christmas tree but there is joy in spotting those there too!

I like a mixture of books as presents to me. This year I’ve opted for a couple of crime novels and a humorous book which is part of a series I love. Kindle books I tend to get as and when I want them and I often try out authors new to me by downloading their ebooks first. If I really like their work, I will often to go for the next book in paperback.

One thing the pandemic has changed for me is that I haven’t been in to the big shopping centres (and therefore the big bookshops) for a while. I don’t know yet if that will change for this year but I do, whenever possible, support a variety of online retailers, including those who support the independent bookshops. Do look out for those. I also support smaller bookshops when I can. They all have a lovely ambience to them and that’s reason enough to go in and support those!

I hope you have a lovely season buying books and then the great joy of having several to unwrap on Christmas Day!

Screenshot 2022-11-26 at 19-53-57 'Tis The Season To Buy Books!

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Screenshot 2022-11-25 at 20-47-42 Reader Hub Book Brush

https://bookbrush.com/reader-hub/AllisonSymesAuthor

Opening Lines, a Reading Acrostic, and a Reader Hub

Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots (and photo of Lady) were taken by me, Allison Symes. Many thanks to Dawn Kentish Knox for taking the photo of me reading at a previous Bridge House Publishing event. Very much looking forward to going to the 2022 one!
Hope you have had a good few days – weather stormy and then next day gorgeous sunshine. It’s a case of looking out of the window and thinking big coat or not today then! This will be the position for the next few months – certainly till at least early March.

BookBrushImage-2022-11-22-20-3240

Facebook – General

Hope you’ve had a good day. Lady got to play with her “boyfriend”, a lovely tri-coloured Aussie Shepherd today. Both got a good run!

Am looking forward to sharing Part 2 of my interview with Jenny Sanders on Chandler’s Ford Today on Friday. This week we’ll be discussing short stories and flash fiction, other areas in which our paths have crossed, writing wise.

Have booked my tickets for the Bridge House Publishing event in London on 3rd December. Looking forward to that very much. Will be giving a reading at that event too. Flash is ideal for that kind of thing – you cannot go on for too long!

 

To say Lady and I got wet this morning is something of an understatement. Had Noah been passing, we’d have thumbed a lift.

Now I use Book Brush to design graphics with and I love using their tools to help me achieve great images for my blog posts. (I use them all the time for Chandler’s Ford Today, Authors Electric, Mom’s Favorite Reads, More than Writers etc). I’ve now set up my Reader Hub page on this (it is a new feature) where I can share pictures, my social media links and a bit about what I write, all in one handy place. Very pleased with this and am sure it will prove useful.
Screenshot 2022-11-21 at 20-00-26 Allison Symes - Author Reader HubProgressing well with Flash NANO. One of my pieces for this I plan to use for my YouTube tale this week so look out for that when I share the link tomorrow. See below. I’ve mentioned before about having a “stock” of stories ready for competitions, markets etc. Taking part in Flash NANO is a great way to build up a good stock!

I’ve shared a couple of my pieces on the Flash NANO Facebook group (as these stories needed little alteration) but I won’t share everything there because I know there is plenty of work to do on my other tales before I want anyone else seeing them! Having said that, I am loving reading what others are sharing here – it does to pay to read in your genre as well as outside of it. It always reminds me of why I love the flash format. And it is such a fun thing to do so win-win!

 

Hope you have had a good day. Many thanks for the lovely comments coming in on Cat Chat, my new tale (or should that be tail?) on Friday Flash Fiction. I write stories from an animal’s point of view every so often. They’re fun to do. But, as with any story, the character voice must be strong enough to be convincing.

Am looking forward to sharing Part 2 of my interview with Jenny Sanders on Chandler’s Ford Today next week (and again thanks to all who have responded so well to Part 1 where the post was shared on social media yesterday. Lots of memories about schools programming from years ago!) Part 2 will look at where Jenny and I cross paths with regard to short story and flash fiction writing.

Screenshot 2022-11-18 at 16-56-02 Cat Chat by Allison Symes

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Am looking forward to the Association of Christian Writers Flash Fiction group meeting on Zoom next week. It is a lovely time to catch up with writing news, share details of competitions etc, and I usually share a short presentation.

Writing wise, I am already beginning to think about stories for a future (fourth) collection. It does take time to build these up but Flash NANO is going to be a good contributor here!

Have got a story in draft which I want to enter for a competition before the year is out. Currently resting it but hope to have another look at it over the weekend. I can’t stress enough how useful it is to have time away from a story as I find I pick up various things to put right having given myself enough distance away from the piece. It really is worth doing.

Time away

It has been the kind of Monday that makes Noah wonder if it’s time to set sail again so definitely time for a new YouTube story from me. This one, Looking and Finding, is one of my responses to the Flash NANO challenges set so far for this year. The 19 word story, all in! Hope you enjoy it. (I didn’t include the title as part of the word count for this or for the Flash NANO challenge itself but this was great fun to write and will resonate with cat owners and Tom and Jerry fans in particular).


What makes for a good opening line for me? It’s something that draws me in, sets up an interesting premise, and gives me that “I’ve got to find out what happens here” feeling. Only one way to do that – read the story – job done! But…

The job is only done if that vital closing line does its job well and delivers on the promise set by the opening one.

This is why I like to outline my flash and other stories. I don’t need to work out everything but I do need to know how I am going to get from A to B with a rough idea of the stopping points on that journey. In a flash tale, even at the 1000 words upper limit, I often only need a line (which will form the basis of Start Point A), a rough line about what happens in the middle, and another line summing up how the story finishes (my finishing point B). For a longer tale I might need a couple of lines for each of the three points of my story.

I’ve found outlining doesn’t take too long and has saved me a lot of grief. I no longer box myself into a corner with my story. I’ve only scrapped two stories in my time because I hadn’t outlined and I did box myself in as a result of that.

Don’t forget my author newsletter goes out on the first of the month and I do share tips here, especially those pertinent to flash story writing. Last time I shared a pdf I’d created for a flash fiction group I run on Zoom (the ACW one). If you’d like to sign up head over to my landing page at https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com – you would be most welcome! A big thanks to all who are already subscribers too.

One of the Flash NANO challenges is in the form of an exercise I’ve done before – to cut a story in half word count wise. It’s a great exercise to work on your editing skills as the story still has to make sense and to not lose anything important to its meaning. This kind of exercise though is not the type you can do in five minutes. What I’m hoping to do with mine is have it done by the end of Flash NANO at the end of the month.

Goodreads Author Blog – READING ACROSTIC

R= Reading is wonderful and inspires further stories to be written.
E = Educational and entertaining – what is there not to like?
A = Animals, aliens, all sorts of characters end up being the heroes and villains in the stories.
D = Dialogue in books and stories is like overhearing an intriguing conversation where you have to find out what happens.
I = Imagination – reading fires this up considerably even if you don’t write yourself.
N = Novels, novellas, short stories, flash fiction, non-fiction, articles, books, magazines – there is something to suit you somewhere!
G = Great reading can cross centuries – there is no time limit on how long a book or story can be good for.

Screenshot 2022-11-19 at 18-01-56 Reading Acrostic

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