Celebrations and Acronyms

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Had a fabulous time at the Bridge House celebration event in London today. Great to meet up with friends and fellow writers once again.

In no particular order, I’d like to give a shout out to Paula Readman, Ana and Russell, Dawn Kentish Knox and her lovely mum, Pat, Gail Aldwin, and Amanda Huggins. Meeting for lunch in a pub before the event was a fantastic idea! It was nice that the venue was so easy to find from Southwark Tube Station too.

Lovely to hear some great stories read out. Lots of twists and surprise endings, several of the characters I would be very wary of were I meet them in life (!), and it is SO nice being read to!

I read Circle of Life from From Light to Dark and Back Again, Moving On and Time for a Change which were published on Cafelit fairly recently. Laughs and applause were much appreciated by me so thank you all.

Above all, thanks to Gill James and Debz Hobbs-Wyatt for all their hard work behind the scenes at Bridge House, Cafelit and Chapeltown. (I plan to write a Chandler’s Ford Today post on this event in the not too distance future and will share more photos there and then).

Below are just some of the authors who read works out during the celebrations.  All of the stories read were excellent and had the audience spell bound.  Many thanks to Dawn Kentish Knox for taking the photo of me and for kind permission to use it.  Also thanks to her for other images used further down in this post and for the one I’m using as the feature image for this post.

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Some signs of really good stories include:-

1. Promising opening line that MAKES you want to read on immediately.

2. You loved the story so much you feel disappointed when it ends.

3. You remember it (or in the case of novels, for example, you recall your favourite extracts).

4. You’ve read that opening line but CAN’T read on immediately and rush through everything else you’ve got to do so you CAN! OR If you can’t rush through, part of you is inwardly gnashing your metaphorical teeth, until you can sit down with a cuppa and get on and read the story!

5. The real classics become a tradition. The best example of this, of course, is Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.

6. In the case of twist stories, you really didn’t see the surprise coming. It is only when you re-read the tale, you spot the clues. Roald Dahl was the past master of this in his Tales of the Unexpected.

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Time for some more writing acronyms. I expect some of these will ring a bell or several.

OFD – On First Draft
SOFD – STILL on First Draft
DAASD – Don’t ask about Second Draft
EWE – Editing, What Editing?
PDHRN – Printer Died Halfway (through) Running (out) Novel
WCINFAP – Why Can I Never Find A Pen (when I call myself a writer)?
RFOMN – Room For One More Notebook
DWD – Deadline, What Deadline? (Theme emerging here I fear!).
PWP – Procrastination, What Procrastination?
WSWPS – Will Start Writing Properly Shortly – linked to PWP inevitably.

If there is one thing I don’t miss from the “good old days”, it is having to cut and paste literally! I also don’t miss carbon paper.

Has the PC spoiled us all? Perhaps but it is a boon knowing I can correct material easily and can move passages of writing around as I want to and without having to then photocopy the new sheet with the amended bit on (as the copy wouldn’t look as if it HAD had anything added to it!).

I suppose the one thing I really DO miss from said good old days is that reading lots of stories and books was something, if you will pardon the pun, that WAS taken as read. Now we have to encourage reading as much as possible. That isn’t a bad thing obviously but it strikes me we are detecting a “reluctance” that has to be overcome somehow. Why is reading seen as a poor relation to other forms of entertainment?

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There were some great flash fiction pieces read out at the Bridge House/Chapeltown/Cafelit celebration event in London today. Many congratulations to all.

I’ve found the biggest benefit from writing flash fiction is it teaches you quickly how to REALLY edit! You learn to write with precision and that skill can be transferred to whatever other writing you do.

Must confess I am feeling somewhat tired and I swear I was only on tea and orange juice today!! (More pics to come in a future Chandler’s Ford Today post in a couple of weeks time).

(I don’t know when they got the Christmas tree up at Waterloo but it looked nice, as always).

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Questions to ask yourself when writing flash fiction:-

1. What do I want the impact to be on the reader?

2. What mood is the story? (Some titles could take you in several directions so I find it helpful to work out whether it is going to a sad tale, a funny piece, or what have you and then think about a title).

3. Would this story work best as a short, sharp piece (say 25 to 75 words) or expanded a little so there is more depth (say 100 to 500)?

4. Which market/competition am I aiming at? Always have your audience in mind! It directly affects how you write the piece.

5. If writing to a familiar theme, think about the unique take you can bring to it. For example, if you’re writing a love story, what will make that stand out? Dig deep for ideas. The first ones you come up with will inevitably be the “obvious” ones. So search a bit more and a bit more…

It is ironic cliches are usually avoided in fiction (and is that in itself a cliche I wonder?!). However, they can have their uses in flash fiction. Why? Because they can be a useful short cut to conjuring up images you want your readers to conjure up. Because they can tell you a lot about your characters. Because they can save a lot of words!

However, the trick here is to not use the cliche directly. I sometimes use a cliche as a title but in the story itself I twist it. One example was a story I drafted a year or so ago at Swanwick where instead of using “take the biscuit” I came up with “take the Garibaldi”. That made people smile when I read my piece out but it should put a picture in your mind as to what kind of character would think automatically of a Garibaldi as THE biscuit to go to! Equally had I said “take the cheap Rich Tea”, that would, I think, create in a reader’s mind an image of a very different character.

The idea here then is to use the cliche but don’t let it use you. Do something different with it. I know I get tired of reading cliches when I come across a lot of them in a story (and it does happen) but the odd one or two, ideally with a twist to them, is fine.

Advantages to writing flash fiction include learning how to REALLY edit, keeping to word counts, and writing precisely. (That is the only way to keep the word count to where it should be). You have to think of the strongest word to convey the greatest image and to again save on word count. No weak images here, thank you!

You are also thinking about the impact of your story on a reader as giving this some thought early on will dictate the way the story goes and save you some time and work in editing later. Putting yourself into the mind of a potential reader will ensure you are writing with an audience in mind from the outset (which will help when it comes to finding a suitable publication to submit the story to as well).

Goodreads Author Programme Blog Being Read To

When was the last time you were read to as an adult?

For me, that was this afternoon – 1st December 2018 – but more on that in a moment.

I have, as I hope you have, many fond memories of being read to as a child. It instilled a life long love of books in me at a very early age. Thanks to Beatrix Potter, I learned the meaning of the word “soporific” early on too! Good books can do wonders for your vocabulary.

This afternoon I was at the Bridge House/Cafelit/Chapeltown Books celebration event. My favourite time was listening to published works being read out by fellow authors (and I read some too). Let’s just say there are some characters I heard about today I am so glad I can never meet in life. One in particular had a penchant for getting away with… well to say more would give the plot away! Oh and I wouldn’t want to meet all of MY characters either!

But it was such a joy just sitting back and listening. I love audio books but there is nothing to beat hearing an author read out their own work. Dickens was definitely on to something there! I don’t know quite what it is but, even in a tale that has you gripped to the edge of your seat, there is something soothing in being read to.











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My latest CFT post is a review of one of my favourite stories, A Christmas Carol, as performed by the MDG Players at the Dovetail Centre recently. Well done to all!

And this is the only production where the audience got to join in! If you want to know how, read the post! Oh and yes I joined in too.

I forgot to mention I’ve had a couple of stories on Cafelit recently. Anne Boleyn fans will like my story, Consistency, published by Cafelit on 24th November.  It’s been a good week on Cafelit given my Moving On was published by them on 27th November.  Hope you enjoy them both.

My Doubting the Obvious was published by Paragraph Planet on 22nd November.  I need more weeks like this!  The link should take you to their archive for November, which is why I’ve listed the date in case you need to scroll through to find this.  Having said that, have a look good at the other stories here (and indeed on Cafelit too).  There is some wonderful writing here – all very entertaining tales!

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I discuss writing goals in my monthly spot on the Association of Christian Writers’ More than Writers blog.

Do you set any? Have you achieved what you hoped to do? Did you take part in NaNo? I didn’t because I know I’d exceed the word count on some days, be under on others, and while it might balance out in the end, I just don’t need the guilt of “not achieving”! And I would feel guilty…

See what I DO do about setting goals in this post.


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My CFT post this week will be a review of A Christmas Carol as staged by the MDG Players.

A Christmas Carol is my favourite Dickens story and one of my favourite tales overall. It has everything – a villain (at least to begin with), ghosts who reveal why Scrooge has become the way he has and what it will mean for him if he doesn’t change, and redemption. The story is its own little world and just works so well.

Still love the Muppet version with Michael Caine. Is on my must watch list again this year. It is just really well done. Looking forward to sharing my post on Friday.

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Sometimes I write flash fiction with a historical flavour to it. Here’s one for Anne Boleyn fans. Consistency was published by Cafelit on 24th November. Hope you enjoy.  Link given above.

I’ve been talking about achieving goals as my monthly Association of Christian Writers’ blog has been about that. See below. I don’t set a particular number of flash fiction stories to write or submit in a year. What I DO try to do is seek to produce a regular number of stories and then submit them to outlets as often and consistently as I can.

Where is the point where a story really comes alive for you?

For me, it is when I realise I have GOT to find out what happens to the character, whether I love them or loathe them. I generally want to see villains get their comeuppance so read on to see if they do! Equally I want the “good guys” to win through so again read on.

So when creating my own characters, I am always trying to ask myself will this one grip a reader? Is the character strong enough? What is there to love and/or loathe about them?

Fairytales With Bite – When Is a Story Ready to be “out there?”

There is no hard and fast answer to the above question, of course, but what I have found to be true is that a story is ready for submitting when:-

1.  You really cannot edit another word of it without spoiling it in some way.

2.  The story haunts you – and you wrote it!  (Good chance readers will be haunted by it too).

3.  Having deadlines to submit (for reputable competitions say) can be really useful as it makes you work to a date and encourages you to let a story “go”.  It can be easy to keep editing and polishing.  At some point you need to pluck up courage and test the market with your stories.

4.  When you can genuinely envisage your piece as suiting Publication X, say, because you have read several of their editions, have a feel for their style and your story or article fits in beautifully.  If you are right go on and send it in but be sure to follow their submission guidelines.

5.  You come across other published stories which you have cause to feel are not as good as yours.  Only one way to find out if you’re right or not:  send your one in!

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This World and Others – Story Moods

What’s your favourite mood for a story or does it depend on what mood you are in at the time of reading?

I love humorous and poignant stories and am glad to say Cafelit have published one of mine in each of these categories in the last few days.  Consistency is a historical piece and Moving Onis a changing job story, both very different in mood.  I should add the mood varies for my Chandler’s Ford Today pieces too.  My post this week is a review of A Christmas Carol as staged by the MDG Players recently.  In articles like this, as well as the actual review, I like to give some background to either the material or the writer of the material which is being performed so I generally go for an informative. chatty style.  For my scam alert pieces, I obviously adopt a more serious tone.

The key, of course, is having the right “mood” for the right story or article.  Yes, you can have funny crime and I’ve read and listened to some wonderful stories in that genre, but generally, unless it is flagged up, you would expect crime stories to have a fairly sombre tone to them.  This is where the blurb on books is so important.  A reader will pick up on the mood of the book and decide if it suits them thanks to that so it is vital to get this right.

With my From Light to Dark and Back Again the title is the big clue that there is a variety of moods here (as is my strapline – “a story to suit every mood”).

Yes, I think you should play to your strengths when writing so if that is serious writing, go for it, but I would also say don’t be afraid to experiment and play with words.  If you find you can write in more than one mood or tone of story, so much the better.  It will open up more competitions and markets for you to try.  Good luck!

Goodreads Author Programme Blog – Impact of Writing

The impact of writing on the world in general cannot be underestimated.

As well as the Bible, Shakespeare, Dickens etc., all of which have contributed so much to our language and whose stories have been the inspiration for so many others, there are things like the Domesday Book and Magna Carta.

Historical documents which colour so much else in life and law. Nobody could have foreseen at the time of writing just how much impact these would have (though there would have been many hopes about the Magna Carta. Not least that King John was hoping to get rid of it again as soon as he possibly could! An early recognition of dangerous writing perhaps?).

What makes us love our favourite books and stories the way we do? It is also down to impact. The impact of them stays with us. We want to be like the heroic lead characters perhaps. We feel fear for the characters we love as they face dangers. We feel relief, joy etc when our favourites survive.

So do writers’ play with their readers’ emotions then? Yes but it is always best done subtly. The reader has to be willing to go along with the writer here. The writer has to deliver on the promise of his/her opening lines. We have got to be able to identify with those in the story to want to find out whether they make it through to the end or not.

So the impact of writing is everything then. As readers then we need to decide what impact we want to experience.






Flash Fiction, Top Five Favourite Books, and Guest Blogging

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Good news – another of my flash fiction tales, The Art Critic, is now up on the Cafelit website. Anyone who has had a bad review or hated a piece of artwork will sympathize with my heroine in this one. Good fun to write. Hope you enjoy reading it.

I’m outlining ideas for another collection of flash fiction tales and I hope some of these will also end up on Cafelit in the meantime. Many of my stories in From Light to Dark and Back Again started life on Cafelit. A number of Chapeltown Books authors can say the same about their flash stories – and I’m willing to bet we’re all pleased about this!

I loved the old James Garner films, Support Your Local Gunfighter/Sheriff etc. Maybe we should have something called Support Your Cafelit! In all seriousness, online sites like this are an immense help to writers including me. They give us somewhere to put our work, it can (and in this case has) led to publication opportunities, and feedback is also possible via the comments section under each story put on the site.

So give online story websites like Cafelit a try. You may well come across a form of fiction you might like to try writing. Certainly, you’ll like the stories already up there. Happy reading and writing!

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Firstly, as mentioned above, my latest flash fiction piece, The Art Critic, is now up on Cafelit. See http://cafelitcreativecafe.blogspot.co.uk/ but do check out the other wonderful stories on site.

Secondly, I am guest blogging on Amanda Huggins’s Troutie McFish Tales blog tonight. I talk about why I love writing flash fiction and for Chandler’s Ford Today and share some writing tips that have stood me in very good stead.

Thirdly, I’ll be appearing at the Hursley Park Book Fair due to take place in June. I’ll share more details nearer the time but author pics and bios are now up on their website, including for yours truly. See http://www.hursleyparkbookfair.com/authors


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My CFT post this week will be the resumption of my 101 Things to Put into Room 101 series. Yes, I can find 101 things!

I’m using my diary more to plan out what writing work I do when and am finding that useful. It reminds me to block out time for specific tasks for one thing so I am hoping by the year’s end, I will have been more productive than I was in 2017. Not that I was lazy last year, far from it (!), but I’ve been aware for a while I could probably do more than I am and that will need scheduling if I’m going to make it (a) happen and (b) work!

I am making better use of dead time thanks to Evernote and a smartphone. I use time like this to draft out ideas for flash fiction stories and CFT posts. All useful stuff. It’s amazing (though not in a good way) just how easily time slips away and you find you haven’t achieved as much as you thought or would like.

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How can you tell if you have written flash fiction and not just a short story chopped down? Well, like any short story, a flash fiction tale must have a beginning, a middle and an end. Okay, a lot is implied, especially backstory, but everything in your flash tale must move the story onwards to what will seem like the inevitable conclusion (even if is a twist one).  If your story does that, then fine!

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What is the purpose of a story?

To entertain – definitely.
To sometimes convey truths in a more palatable way – yes.
To get a message across – yes.

To set puzzles for readers to solve – think Agatha Christie here especially.

To warn – yes (particularly true for horror I would have thought. If you decide you’re going to tackle Dracula, you’ve got to be prepared for the consequences!).

Flash fiction does all of this but concisely!

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Glad to report The Art Critic, my latest flash fiction piece, is now up on Cafelit. See http://cafelitcreativecafe.blogspot.co.uk/

It was great fun appearing on Amanda Huggins’ Troutie McFish Tales blog. See https://troutiemcfishtales.blogspot.co.uk/…/guest-post-alli… Many thanks, Mandy!

I share why I love writing (and indeed reading) flash fiction and also what I love about writing for Chandler’s Ford Today.

Printers would have fun trying to print this - image via Pixabay

Let the ideas flow and let journeys encourage that! Image via Pixabay

Printing Press - image via Pixabay

The old method of printing. Image via Pixabay

Books can be one major key to knowledge - image via Pixabay

Books are the keys to knowledge. Image via Pixabay

The To Be Read pile - image via Pixabay

The To Be Read pile. Image via Pixabay

What new scenes will a book show you - image via Pixabay

What new worlds and scenes will books show you? Image via Pixabay

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What is the best thing about writing flash fiction? I always love that moment when I’ve come up with the “killer” last line that completes the story in such a way I know there couldn’t be an alternative ending.

Sometimes I do come up with a line I think will make a great ending and plot the story back from that. It’s an interesting challenge (and Agatha Christie was known to do it too).

Do last lines sometimes surprise me? Yes. I hope they surprise you too! I will think of a line I realize is better than the one I originally had in mind. For example, with Serving Up a Treat, the last line “He never got to take a second mouthful” not only sums up the story, (and you can get the genre from that line alone), but, taken with the rest of the tale, I realised later there was more than one way of this character meeting their fate. I had not originally plotted that but was glad it came about. (Yes, you will need to rest of the tale to find out!).

Maybe the art of being a better writer is in getting better at recognizing what works well and being open to changing your initial thoughts and ideas for better ones.

Goodreads Author Programme – Blog

What are your top five favourite books? They can be any genre, non-fiction or otherwise etc.

So often my favourite books do depend on my mood. If I want humorous fiction, I will read that. If I want crime, I will turn to that genre.

But I think for me the five that stand out overall are:-

1. The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey. This book is one of the few novels to ever change my mind about a historical character, in this case Richard III.

2. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkein. The sheer scale of Tolkein’s imagination is amazing and you won’t get a better good-v-evil battle in fiction, I think. Loved the film version too.

3. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. This was my first introduction to the use of irony in fiction and Elizabeth Bennett has long been one of my favourite heroines.

4. Men at Arms by Terry Pratchett. It was hard to pick just one Discworld novel but I plumped for this one as, for me, it is where Sam Vimes really takes off as a character.

5. The Best of P.G. Wodehouse Am I cheating here by going for a best of collection? Maybe! But I’m not sorry. This wonderful book shows off PGW’s fabulous array of characters.

So what would your choices be? Do you think they would change, say, annually, or be permanent selections?








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What do I like to write best – my flash fiction or non-fiction such as my Chandler’s Ford Today posts? No contest. Love them both. Wish I had more time for both. Also means I never, ever get bored.

I find it helpful to spend some time writing, say, flash fiction and then I switch over to CFT posts. It is just great to be inspired by writing something different to what I had just been working on. I have to take different approaches to what I write and going from one to the other and back again keeps me on my toes.

I am going to try this year to prepare more of my CFT posts (the non-time dependent ones) in advance as I have done this before and find it a great way to free up time overall for other writing work. Didn’t get to do much of this in 2017. I like being able to schedule posts in advance and it is a facility I could do with making more use of.

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Am having a lot of fun writing my 101 Things to be put into Room 101 mini-series for Chandler’s Ford Today. Part 1 went up on Friday and I’ve already drafted Part 2. Am not having any trouble at all coming up with things for this! Grumpy old woman, moi? Surely not!

The joy of writing non-fiction like this is I can have fun with my writing in a different way to my fiction. With that, I love inventing my characters and the situations I put them in but with articles like this, I put my imagination to work and bring facts in to back it up! Well, sometimes anyway. Features like this one are, of course, opinion pieces but it is great to have fun coming up with something you hope will entertain others as well as being able to express views.

And I still want wasps booted into Room 101!

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An interesting point came up in the comments box on my latest CFT post which referred to characters “knowing” they were about to die and later it turned out they hadn’t!

My response was that stories, of whatever length, do have to be logical and make sense. In this case, I would have written the character as genuinely believing they were about to die (and I would also have shown some of her bodily reactions to this – shaking, racing heart etc).

Equally later in the story, if the character had just been plain grateful to have been wrong about her earlier assumption, that would have modified things. But this comment reminded me my characters can only believe things. Their knowledge has to be based on what they CAN know or honestly believe to be true.

This comment also acts as a reminder when editing a story to go back and check that everything does make sense. Otherwise, you will lose your readers as they will see straight through anything illogical like this.

Let creativity spill out - image via Pixabay

Let the creative process flow! Image via Pixabay

The fantastic world of books must include non-fiction too - image via Pixabay

The wonderful world of stories. Image via Pixabay

Books illuminate and fiction is made stronger by using non-fiction to support it - image via Pixabay

Fiction is strengthened when backed by fact. Image via Pixabay

Historical records can be an invaluable source of inspiration - image via Pixabay

Historical records can be an invaluable source of inspiration. Image via Pixabay,

Good books should bring illumination to a situation, make you see things as you haven't before - image via Pixabay

Aiming for more “magic” from my stories this year! Image via Pixabay.

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What is your preferred form of reading? The paper/hardback or Kindle?

I love both but must admit the Kindle is a boon for when I’m away and has saved so much room in my suitcase! It is also nice to know I will definitely not run out of things to read. Also, I find the battery life is reasonable and I do like being able to go to weblinks etc from within an ebook.

However, you can’t beat a good browse in a bookshop and a leisurely half hour with a paperback and a cup of tea, My only complaint here? I wish I could do it more often!

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Benefits of writing flash fiction:-

1. You really do learn to write to a tight word count!

2. Your editing skills improve as you use the more powerful words to conjure up images in your reader’s minds. No room for waffle here!

3. It can act as really good practice for writing a blurb etc.

4. You focus on what is the nub of the story and get to the point quicker.

5. You can now enter all the flash fiction competitions!


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Am enjoying drafting some opening lines I plan to write up as flash fiction stories.

I like coming up with the bizarre, the other-worldly and the simple statement which I sometimes twist into something less simple!

For example, in from Light to Dark and Back Again in Health and Safety, the story starts with my character wondering why people are moaning. The tale then reveals the character is Goldilocks and she is sharing her version of events, but that opening line could have been ANY character in ANY setting at ANY time. It did not have to necessarily be a fairytale character.

I do like lines like that which offer so many possibilities.

I write batches of flash fiction at a time, polish them, submit them (and hopefully they then end up in a collection!).

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What is the special something about your characters that mean you absolutely HAVE to write their stories?

I often use the major trait of a character as a starting point (and find it easier to write characters whose traits I like. With the ones where I hate the traits, I have to get inside the head of the character to see how they justify their attitude. That can be disturbing at times when you realise how easily they can justify their stance!).

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Part of the role of fiction is to show up truths that can’t necessarily be proven by pure fact. Truths about the human condition, truths about what love is and so on.

Flash fiction does this too but in fewer words! I like to think of flash fiction as shining a spotlight on a theme and, of course, the shorter the piece, the greater the intensity of that spotlight!

The challenge can be where you direct that beam or sometimes even knowing where you’ve aimed it! Sometimes you write a piece and the theme can take even you by surprise.

I always write to a character. I know who my leading people are and why they are in that role. I don’t always write to a specific theme and sometimes the theme just leaps out at me AFTER I’ve drafted the story.

When I was editing From Light to Dark and Back Again, it struck me then just how many of my stories dealt with some kind of poetic justice. I never set out to write to that theme (though I guess the things you feel strongly about are bound to come out in your writing somewhere along the line!).

Goodreads Author Programme – Blog

What I Like in a Book Review

This applies to reviews for my From Light to Dark and Back Again as well as those I give for other books!

A good review has:-

1. No spoilers but enough information so the reader knows what they will be reading in terms of genre etc.

2. What the reviewer likes – good characterisation, twist in the tale endings etc.

3. No waffle.

4. No negativity. (The way to criticize a book is to say what you liked, what you thought didn’t work so well etc as the writer will be expecting this. Your thoughts on what didn’t work so well can be very useful to them. What you don’t write is a “hatchet job” on the book or the author).

5. A rough idea of book length and time taken to read it (though I must admit I don’t always remember this one! I DO stress when reviewing flash fiction collections the great thing about this genre is you can read it one sitting but it is also great for dipping in and out of).

6. What you would like to see from the author next time (i.e. next book in the series, continued great characterisation, less of the blood and gore, if appropriate etc).

7. Total honesty from the reviewer.

What would you add to this list?


I can’t over-emphasize the importance of loving what you do as a writer.  It can help keep you going when all you get in your inbox (or even still these days your letterbox) are the inevitable rejections all writers get.  Treasure any specific comments you receive on rejections as these can be invaluable for showing up weaknesses etc.

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One thing I love about writing for Chandler’s Ford Today is it has helped me work to a deadline (and a relatively short one at that). Most story competitions give you a reasonable amount of time in which to submit your tales. CFT is weekly.

I have brainstorming sessions every so often for ideas for my flash fiction but I also have some for potential articles for CFT. It takes me a while to work through them too, which is good.

There has to be a link to the local area but that link sometimes is me, especially when I’m interviewing other authors from outside the area.

Writing articles for your local online magazine could be a good place to start and it can lead to you having a track record (always handy for publishers, if you’re submitting work to magazines etc). Okay so you don’t get paid but you do learn a lot from it. I know I have.


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One of the lovely moments in story writing is when you discover you really like your characters and find yourself rooting for them. And you know how the story ends too!

I’m currently editing a story about two ladies of a certain age and love the pair of them! Mind, it probably helps no end I’d probably be in that “certain age” bracket now…

What appeals to you about your own characters? What drove you to write them in the first place? There has to be something special to get you to do so (and that includes villains too. Many a writer has fallen for their own evildoers!).

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My Chandler’s Ford Today post this week is called Writing Sayings – Truth or Nonsense? I look at old favourites like never judge a book by its cover and write what you know amongst others. Link to go up tomorrow.

I did find some lovely and useful sayings relating to writing I hadn’t come across before and I share those too (from Mark Twain and Margaret Attwood amongst others). I also share a couple of sayings I’d like added to the canon of wise thoughts.

I enjoy writing all of my posts for CFT but this one was great fun and I hope there will be some good comments after the piece goes live tomorrow.


Books invite you into their world - image via Pixabay

Books invite you into their world. Image via Pixabay.

What new scenes will a book show you - image via Pixabay

What new worlds and scenes will books show you? Image via Pixabay

Some very strange characters can be found inside a book - image via Pixabay

Some very strange creatures are in books. Image via Pixabay

Good advice here - all writers need to fail better - image via Pixabay

Good advice. Image via Pixabay.

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

What would I like flash fiction to achieve?

I would love it to tempt reluctant readers into developing a lifelong love of stories and books.

I would love it to tempt the “gadget freaks” into reading it on Kindle (and even via something that needs no batteries at all – the good old paperback!).

I would love it to show those who claim they have no time to read, well actually you do. Flash fiction really does not take that long! (They’d have to think of another excuse not to read then, wouldn’t they?).

I would love it to show that great characterisation does not mean having to use hundreds of words.

Flash fiction is, I think, the ultimate proof that less is more!


Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Do you have a favourite writer and, if so, who and why? I’m torn on this. I love P.G. Wodehouse and Terry Pratchett for their humour and ways with words yet their story worlds are so very different! (And that’s another reason I love them both. It’s always good to visit more than one fictional world!).

Whoever your nominee would be, I strongly suspect it is something special about the characters produced by that writer, which would be your deciding factor. (And if that doesn’t settle the argument over character -v- plot, I don’t know what will! Without well drawn characters, any plot falls down badly).

I don’t know about you but I find when recalling a story I’ve not read for a while, I may not remember every single detail about the plot, but I do recall what I loved about the characters.


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Facebook – From LIght to Dark and Back Again

The dash to write a piece of flash
May result in a wonderful tale
But you need the edit to slash
At your draft so your work may not fail.
Cut the rough and know after all
No great work is achieved overnight
Every word must seek to enthral
Out comes anything that might well blight
You find the real tale from that first draft
This is where you develop your craft.

Allison Symes – 15th February 2018

Not arguing with this saying - image via Pixabay

Not arguing with this! Image via Pixabay

Well, would you - image via Pixabay

Well, would you? Image via Pixabay

Too late for me but a saying worth considering - image via Pixabay

Alas, too late for me! Image via Pixabay

Goodreads Author Programme – Blog

Reading, of course, educates, informs and entertains us. I think all three aspects are vital and should feed off each other.

This is where things like the Horrible Histories series have done so well – information presented with humour goes down better, especially with youngsters, than straight facts presented in a more traditional way.

I read chiefly for pleasure but I also read to research and to expand my knowledge on things I may well write about, either in fiction or for Chandler’s Ford Today at a later date.

Things I know I will want to read later I will either download straight to my Kindle or send to it (and this is so useful. I often catch up with reading here when on train journeys).

So does literacy and the love of books still matter? Of course, it does. It always will.
















Facebook – General

My Chandler’s Ford Today post this week will be Part 2 of my interview with crime writer, Val Penny. She discusses how much research she does and why networking is invaluable for all writers, amongst other topics. Will put the link up on Friday.

I was thinking, for my new Goodreads blog post, which went up earlier this evening, about why I love short stories and flash fiction so much. I think it may be because I’m impatient! With a novel, you have to wait for the tension to build and build… With a short story (and even more so for flash fiction), you get the impact nigh on immediately. That probably says a fair bit about me!

Let creativity spill out - image via Pixabay

Let the creative process flow! Image via Pixabay

Hunter's Chase book cover

Val’s latest crime novel. Image supplied by Val Penny.

The fantastic world of books must include non-fiction too - image via Pixabay

The wonderful world of writing should include non-fiction, which benefits from creative techniques too. Image via Pixabay.

Feature Image - Facts and Fiction - image via Pixabay

What writing triggers will help you create your new worlds? Image via Pixabay

Facebook – General

What do you find most difficult to do – start a story or finish it?

For me, it’s finding the right starting point. Once I’ve got that, I’m up and running, I know I will generally end a story on a “punch” ending (and often a twist in the tale at that). As the story progresses I can sense myself getting to that bit, so finishing a tale is usually okay. I’m the same with blog posts. Get me started and I’m away!

I try to start anything I write with a “hit the ground running” approach. I often will go straight into the main character’s head so “they” can show a potential reader what state/mood they’re in, what crisis they’re facing etc. I find that really useful.

Other opening lines can include a brief indication as to the setting, but I keep that as short as I can. Later, if I need to go back and fill in more details, I do but I am wary of too much description. In flash fiction, there’s no room for it anyway!

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

I created a poll a few days ago about whether an intriguing start or a twist ending was the best for a story. Please do vote if you haven’t already. I’ll discuss results in a few days’ time.

Have submitted my follow-up book to From Light and Dark and Back Again. Really glad to have that done. Would like to focus on my third book and getting more stories out there. Would like to do something with my non-fiction articles too at some point. Always good to have plenty to be getting on with!

Only wish? As ever, that I had more time. Now, this is where I could do with arranging for one of my fairy godmothers to become real and grant all writers three wishes. What would those wishes be?

1. Whatever time you need to write with NO interruptions or disruptions.

2. You will never suffer a dodgy internet connection again.

3. You will also be given as much time as you want to read whenever you want again with NO interruptions or disruptions.

Sounds good to me!

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

What do you think is the most important part of a story, whether it is standard length or flash fiction?

I’ll leave this poll up for a few days and report back later in the week. I’ll give my view as part of that.

An intriguing start
A twist ending
This poll ends in 2 days

Goodreads Author Programme – Blog

I’ve loved short stories for years. Flash fiction has been a fairly recent innovation and I quickly became addicted to both reading and writing it.

As you can imagine, I was thrilled to be published for the first time last year with Chapeltown Books for a flash fiction collection (From Light to Dark and Back Again).

Now I have nothing against the novel. You can’t beat the novel for a satisfying, longer story when all is said and done.

But sometimes you just want a glimpse into a character’s life (rather than have the whole “spiel”) and this is where short stories, and especially flash fiction, come into their own.

They really do pack a punch when you consider their limited word count. (Even the longer short story is still short when compared to your average novel).

I love to write my stories knowing they will have an impact, whether it is to hopefully make readers laugh or, if the tales are darker, to make them shudder!

The big problem with a novel is keeping impact going without it seeming artificial and ensuring the final impact happens at the right moment. It is possible to write a final scene for a book and then decide you’ve just got to add this, or that, and thaen the final impact is diluted.

You can’t really do that with short stories (and you certainly can’t for flash). You have the big, final moment and that’s it. But to me that is a huge advantage as a writer. I know when to stop then!

The images below were taken at the Bridge House celebration event last December.  We all know the value of stories!

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Crime Fiction and Writing Triggers

Facebook – and Chandler’s Ford Today

My latest Chandler’s Ford Today post is Part 1 of a great interview with crime writer, Val Penny. Her new book, Hunter’s Chase, is now out in paperback and ebook and is the first of her Edinburgh Crime Series. We discuss what drove Val to crime (!) and why she thinks crime fiction is so popular. She also shares some top tips for writers. Part 2 next week.

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

I have a very soft spot for stories told from alternative viewpoints, especially fairy tales. My first published story was A Helping Hand in Bridge House Publishing’s Alternative Renditions anthology (many moons ago now) and tells the Cinderella tale from the viewpoint of the youngest stepsister.

In From Light to Dark and Back Again, I take Goldilocks’ viewpoint as my angle in the tale, Health and Safety, (though between you and me, I still think she comes across as the kind of character you wouldn’t want to take into a posh giftware shop given the chaos she caused with one chair and one bed in the Three Bears’ house!).

One great thing about using alternative viewpoints like this is you can explore why that character has behaved the way they have. You can explore their justifications for their actions. The great thing is they don’t have to be right! (It can be even more fun when they’re not but they really think they are. You really get to know what they are made of exploring this kind of avenue).

Fairytales with Bite – Writing Triggers

I mention this topic as part of my interview with crime writer, Val Penny, on Chandler’s Ford Today this week looked at what triggered her wish to write.  It is one of those questions I often ask writers I interview and the results are always fascinating.

Also, it is interesting to note that, while there can be similarities, I believe most writers have triggers to begin writing that are unique to them.  Mine were turning 30 and having given birth to my son, two major life changes that made me face up to the fact if I wanted to be a writer, I had better get on and write then!

I also love writing triggers in the form of opening lines, photos, closing lines etc that encourage you to write something around them.  They can make you really work your imagination.  The theme for competitions can also act as good triggers (and can be useful for writing practice even if you don’t enter the contest.  If you do and win it or are shortlisted, even better though!).

I find the ideal opening line writing trigger is one that can give you all kinds of possibilities to work with.  For example, I would find the line “He refused to cry again” a lot more interesting to work with than “The starship crashed into a crater”.  I could write stories on both and have fun doing so but the first one you could set in any time, any world come to that.  The second is an immediate sci-fi or fantasy story, which is fine, but you are getting your genre and setting in one go here.  (That can be useful when I want triggers for my flash fiction though and that is when I will want a line that does a lot of work for me!).

Let creativity spill out - image via Pixabay

Let the creative process flow! Image via Pixabay

The fantastic world of books must include non-fiction too - image via Pixabay

The wonderful world of writing should include non-fiction, which benefits from creative techniques too. Image via Pixabay.

Feature Image - Facts and Fiction - image via Pixabay

What writing triggers will help you create your new worlds? Image via Pixabay

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

Can’t beat the notebook and pen for quick notes. Image via Pixabay,


Some of the books I’ve appeared in and FLTDBA of course. Image by Allison Symes

This World and Others – Popular Fiction – Do You Just Write What You Know Will Sell?

The short answer is “no”!  This topic came about thanks to this week’s Chandler’s Ford Today post.  This is Part 1 of my interview with crime writer, Val Penny, and one thing we discussed was why crime fiction is so popular and what drove her to crime (!).

I think crime and horror are probably the two most popular genres in fiction.  There can be crossover and within each genre there is a wide range of sub-categories.  But does this mean you should just write to these two genres, say, because you know there is a proven market for them?  Absolutely not!

You have got to believe in what you write.  You have got to love what you write (at least most of the time!  I appreciate when you’ve been through the sixth rewrite, you may feel a tad tired about the whole thing!  We all do!).

You have got to love your characters, and love those you love to hate. I also believe that if you don’t write what is your “driving fictional instinct”, what you do come out with will be just a poor imitation of the markets you are trying go get into and that will show.  Whereas if you love what you write, that will also show.  It is where your writing voice will come through loud and clear.  Good luck!

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My Goodreads blog post this time is an expanded version of my Facebook post for From Light to Dark and Back Again.

Goodreads Author Programme – Blog

I have a very soft spot for stories told from alternative viewpoints, especially fairy tales. My first published story was A Helping Hand in Bridge House Publishing’s Alternative Renditions anthology (many moons ago now) and tells the Cinderella tale from the viewpoint of the youngest stepsister. It was great fun to write and, due it being the first thing I’d written that was accepted for publication (thank you, Bridge House!), it will always have a special place in my heart.

In my flash fiction collection, From Light to Dark and Back Again, I take Goldilocks’ viewpoint as my angle in the tale, Health and Safety, (though between you and me, I still think she comes across as the kind of character you wouldn’t want to take into a posh giftware shop given the chaos she caused with one chair and one bed in the Three Bears’ house!).

One great thing about using alternative viewpoints like this is you can explore why that character has behaved the way they have. You can explore their justifications for their actions.

The great thing is they don’t have to be right! (It can be even more fun when they’re not but they really think they are. You really get to know what they are made of exploring this kind of avenue).

You can also prove the truth of the old saying “there are two sides to every story” by exploring what the other characters think! They just have to be strong enough to carry their own story.



Sorry for the longer gap between posts than normal.  I’ve been recovering from flu and have felt as if I have the stamina of your average wet lettuce leaf all week!  So lots to catch up on including news of an interview, my latest CFT and Goodread blogs and new posts on my Fairytales with Bite and This World and Other websites too.

Facebook – and Chandler’s Ford Today and My Interview

A busy night tonight. Firstly, my Chandler’s Ford Today post this week looks at music and moods and how I now avoid having my mood changed when writing. (It does depend on what I listen to!). I share some of my favourite pieces too and why I used Saint Saens Danse Macabre as the music for the book trailer for From Light to Dark and Back Again.

Secondly, I was interviewed a little while ago by fellow Chapeltown author, Aly Rhodes (aka Alyson Faye). Her Chapeltown book, Badlands, is due fairly soon (though is available now on Kindle). Her interview with me is now up on her blog and many thanks to her for hosting me. (It’s always nice when the boot is on the other foot!).


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Facebook – General – Catch Up posts

Not been around much for the last couple of days as seem to have a bad case of the dreaded lurgy. Am not a happy bunny when poorly.

I want to be “up and doing” as Mr Groat would say (from Terry Pratchett’s marvellous Going Postal – do check it out . I think it has one of the best openings to a book ever and I can’t say more than that without giving a major spoiler away so shan’t! It’s also the only book I can think of that gets away with more than one prologue and both are crucial!).

The one good thing has been enforced early nights have meant I have caught up with some reading. I am having a major history “fest” right now (The Mythology of Richard III, The Wars of the Roses, both by John Ashdown Hill and the updated version of The Maligned King by Annette Carson. Excellent reads all of them and if you want some “facts ” about Richard III thoroughly debunked, do start here.).

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

Can’t beat the notebook and pen for quick notes. Image via Pixabay,

Tower of London Book Cover

Jennifer C Wilson’s first book. Image kindly supplied by Jennifer C Wilson

Feature Image Part 2 Jennifer C Wilson Stepping Back in Time

One of my earlier CFT posts. Good historical fiction will make you seem as if you are in that world. Image via Pixabay.

Feature Image - Pivotal History Moments - Bosworth

Another older CFTpost shows how moments in history can literally change everything.. Image via Pixabay.

A fallen knight - Richard III was the ultimate one - image via Pixabay

A fallen knight – and even his enemies acknowledged Richard III as this. Image via Pixabay. Richard III is the lead in Jennifer C Wilson’s Kindred Spirits: Tower of London novel.

Facebook – A Thought on the Muse

The muse sometimes deserves a good kick up the backside.
It should not be spoilt, pampered or given a free ride.
It needs some pushing to show up for work when you do
As working in tandem is ideal for both of you.

Allison Symes – 9th January 2018

Facebook – from earlier this week…

Will be really glad when this flu is finally over with. Am struggling not to feel tired all the time. I am catching up with some reading in bed though, which is about the only positive thing to come out of this week!

Having said that I did complete my CFT post for this week earlier today and that will be about mood and music. This has proven to be more apt than I thought it would be when I first decided to write it! More details tomorrow.

Am on final edits of my second book. Hope to have these done in next week or so. Feel very bad about being so behind but I must say I haven’t felt this ill in a very long time, thankfully. To everyone else out there with this wretched bug, take care and get well soon!

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

One thing reading history soon teaches you (whether you read fiction or non-fiction) is how vital it is to keep a sense of perspective. (Something Thomas More failed to do with his “history” of Richard III – and Shakespeare even more so).

I’ve also come across some jaw-dropping leaps of “faith” when someone is trying to sum up a person. Charles Dickens in his A Child’s History of England roundly condemns Mary Stuart for being a murderess. He also condemns Elizabeth Tudor executing Mary Stuart. Okay, Charles, just WHAT was Elizabeth meant to do then especially with Parliament hounding her to have the sentence carried out?

Oh and out of interest he does write about Victoria’s early years on the throne. No criticism whatsoever that I could make out! Was he after a knighthood I wonder? (He should have had one of course but not for this particular book! I’ve always seen this as proof every writer has one bad book in them. The clever bit is trying to ensure it never sees the light of day!).

So how does that affect my fiction writing? All of this acts as a warning bell to me to make sure I am telling my character’s story, that they are not over-embellished (there is a place for ham villainy, it’s usually in the panto. Oh yes it is….😁) and to ensure the perspective shown is a reasonable one, at least from the character’s viewpoint.

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Dark stories, light ones, or those that fall somewhere in between? I love them all and, of course, From Light to Dark and Back Again, has them all in! You have to write what you write. I don’t think, for example, you can write “funny” to order. What should happen is you write a story and your natural humour comes through your characters. It reads more naturally that way too.

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again – Interview by Alyson Faye/Aly Rhodes

Lovely to be interviewed by fellow flash fiction writer and Chapeltown author, Alyson Faye (aka Aly Rhodes), on her blog tonight. Her book, Badlands, is out in Kindle format now and will be out in paperback. As with all Chapeltown books, it has the distinctive frame around a central image.

Meanwhile, it was lovely for this questioner of other writers to be on the receiving end, so thanks again, Aly!

Goodreads Author Programme – Blog

I don’t know about you but my reading moods tend to be one genre at a time, then I switch to another for a while and so on.

At the moment my reading list is mainly history (non-fiction), but almost inevitably when I want a change from that, I’ll go to something almost diametrically opposed to it. (Probably humorous fiction, knowing me and then it’ll the usual crime fest with appropriate body count etc!).

I see all of this as immersing myself well and truly in the world of books and that does have benefits to my fiction. Ideas cross-pollinate, influences that lead to good story ideas can come from almost anywhere (so reading widely really means just casting your imagination’s net out that bit further, which is rarely a bad thing!).

So whatever you are reading enjoy it! Who knows what ideas it might inspire in you for your own writing? (All I know is you’ve got to be open to the prospect of ideas coming in!).

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Fairytales With Bite – Music and Moods

I talk about music and moods in my latest Chandler’s Ford Today post.

What role does music play in the fictional world you’ve created?  Is it music as we would understand the term?  Are any of your peoples particularly for or against music on religious or other grounds?  Can anyone use music to influence the behaviour of others (and, yes, I am thinking about the Pied Piper of Hamelin story!).

We have our own history of great composers in different fields of music so what would your world’s equivalent be?  Is classical known but rock not?  Or is classical the big unknown or only for the elite?

This World and Others – Character Tastes – Music

My latest Chandler’s Ford Today post is about music and moods and how the former can affect the latter.  I take care what I listen to now as I don’t want my writing affected by what I’m relaxing to!

What are your characters’ tastes in music?  Musical tastes can be used to designate class (or lack of, you decide what’s appropriate here!).  What would win other characters’ approval or disgust?  What does everyone listen to in your created world?  What do they avoid?  Is there any crossover with the music we know and love/hate here?

Is there an  underground music movement (especially if the mainstream is tightly controlled by the authorities)?  Music has always had its rebels (Beethoven and Mozart were there long before punk rock!) so how would your world show this?  Do they get away with their rebelliousness?

Looking into the past... Image via Pixabay


Facebook – General and Chandler’s Ford Today

This week’s Chandler’s Ford Today post is my review of Murdered to Death by Peter Gordon, recently performed by the Chameleon Theatre Group. I look at what you look for in great spoofs and discuss the wonderful Agatha Christie send-ups in this highly enjoyable play, which was brilliantly performed by the Chameleons to a packed house. I hope they put on more spoofs. I have a very soft spot for funny plays (funny books too come to that) and spoofs are a fantastic part of this.

Image Credit:

All images for Murdered to Death kindly supplied to Chandler’s Ford Today by Lionel Elliott and taken by Liz Strevens and Marilyn Dunbar, all of The Chameleon Theatre Group.

Many thanks.

Image Credit:  All images below are from Pixabay.

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

When is less is more? Certainly in flash fiction. Also on Twitter (I’ve been following the debate on the increase in characters from 140 to 280 and agree that the tighter character limit increases creativity. If you can say something in 140 characters, why on earth would you want to say it in more? There is no point to writing which isn’t necessary to the story!).

Twist endings depend on the less is more principle. In The Truth in From Light to Dark and Back Again the last sentence contains the twist in a total of 10 words (and by my rough tot-up 68 characters including the full stop!). In Serving Up a Treat, the twist was in 8 words (which this time is 39 characters including the full stop).

A guiding principle for me has been to write what needs to be written and get out! (It is in the edit that you work out what does need to be in the story. It can be surprising just how much can be cut too at times).

(From Light to Dark and Back Again can now be found in MIBI Gift Shop in Chandler’s Ford, along with Leap of Faith and Trouble With Swords by fellow writer and friend, Richard Hardie. Images below taken by me and many thanks to MIBI. I hope to write a CFT post about how local communities can help their writers and vice versa).

Image Credit:

All images below taken by Allison Symes.  Many thanks to MIBI.

Image Credit:  All images below are from Pixabay.

Goodreads Author Programme – Blog

What do your book choices reveal about you? Well, for a start, hopefully, that you have excellent taste in books!

Your choices should also reveal you are widely read, with a good selection of non-fiction books, as well as fiction, on your shelves.

Certain titles give themselves away, of course. Having the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook on your shelves points to there being a writer or artist in the household!

Your choices should also reveal which genres are your favourites as these will tend to dominate your bookshelves. (In my case, it’s humorous fantasy and yes I do have a shelf full of Terry Pratchett and Tom Holt’s works).

On the non-fiction front, your choices should reveal what your favourite genre is here (for me, it’s anything historic).

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Fairytales With Bite – Priorities

What are your characters’ priorities and why have they chosen them?  (Did they get to choose them or did family/tribal expectation force them to “choose” the priorities they have?).  What are the priorities for your world’s government(s)?  What stops them or individual characters from fulfilling their priorities?

I must admit I sometimes find it difficult to work out my priorities (given all my jobs do actually need to be done!).  This is where deadlines (actual and ones you set for yourself) can be useful.  They give you something concrete to work towards, can help against procrastination and, I think, help you achieve more in terms of your writing than you would without them.

The biggest but nicest problem I have had this year is giving the right priority to publicizing From Light to Dark and Back Again (including taking part in things like the recent Chandler’s Ford Book Fair) and getting on with my other writing.  I know I will get this balance right eventually (experience does show!) but I also know I haven’t got there yet (as I said, experience does show!  So does lack of said experience!).

Writing directly to screen

Prioritising writing work isn’t always easy.

This World and Others – Remembering

This weekend has Armistice Day (11/11), which given it is on a Saturday this year is followed by special services throughout the UK (where I’m based) on the nearest Sunday to it.  It is a strange thing about us as a species that we need to actively remember especially those things that are the most important.  The biggest lesson from history, I think, is the importance to remember and then maybe some of the worst mistakes we’ve made won’t be repeated.  At the very least that is a good thing to aim for.

This week has also seen the second anniversary of my mother’s passing and I can’t believe where the time has gone.

On a happier note, as I’m settling in our new rescue dog, Lady, happy memories of my previous dogs, Gracie and Mabel, are flooding back as Lady shows some traits common to them all.

On a writing front, what would your characters choose to actively remember?  What are the most important things for them?  What does this say about them as characters?  What made them choose these things?  Do any of these things go against what would be their cultural norm and, if so, what consequences do they face?

Looking into the past... Image via Pixabay

Lest We Forget.


Never give up, work hard, be disciplined... all valuable traits for success, whether you're a tennis player, a writer or a character in a story! Image via Pixabay.


Image Credit:  Unless otherwise stated, all images are either from Pixabay or taken by me.

Facebook – General

My favourite kind of story usually involves a villain getting their comeuppance. This covers everything from episodes of Columbo (great series!) to fairy tales to most fiction genres. I suppose this is because we all know so often justice is NOT done in life so perhaps we look to fiction to “compensate”.

I’m not into gruesome revenge tales (I think the danger with those is if you overdo it, you end up feeling some sympathy for the villain), but I do love poetic justice stories (and have written a few in From Light to Dark and Back Again),

The other reason is when the villain hasn’t got away with whatever evil scheme he/she devised, the story comes to what feels like a natural conclusion. Generally, there is no need to go beyond that point. And I like stories which are complete in themselves – an intriguing opening, an engrossing middle and a satisfying ending. I don’t want “beyond that”.

So what is your favourite kind of story and why?  (Image Credit:  Most below are by Pixabay.  The one of my books is by me).

Facebook – General Part 2

My Chandler’s Ford Today post this week will be a look back at last weekend’s Book Fair. While I can’t name all the authors taking part (there were LOADS!), I can share several pictures to give a good idea of how things were. I very much hope this will be the start of many such events.

Sadly we lost our independent bookshop some time ago so the Book Fair and other events like it can help plug the gap a little. We are lucky enough to have a fantastic library and one of their staff, the great Jane, came out to support the event too with their information stand. More details tomorrow. But we definitely need more of this kind of event!

At the weekend something special will happen. My family and I have made it our role in life to rescue lady collies down on their luck and regardless of age. Well on Saturday we will be bringing Lady home. Our third rescue dog, our third dog with a name we like so we won’t be changing it, so we still haven’t named any dogs we own!

And up in our front room? Two photo portraits of our Gracie and Mabel, much missed and always loved. We used the images below (on the first picture) and are really pleased with how the portraits turned out. The odd thing is it was about a month between Gracie and Mabel and it will be the same again with Mabel and Lady. Not planned on our part. Just a question of the right dog, the right time, the right place.

(Oh yes and with our innate sense of timing, of course we’re bringing Lady home on Bonfire Weekend. Still, this is the family that had their central heating installed in the middle of a very cold November so we have formhere!).. Pics of Lady to follow, I hope, at the weekend.

Image may contain: outdoor and nature

Gracie, my first dog, is on the left.  Mabel is on the right.  Both lovely dogs.  Image taken by me.

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

What can you do with flash fiction that it would be difficult to do with longer forms of longer writing?

1. Use flash to convey a strong but short idea that genuinely wouldn’t run to a short story or beyond.

2. Use flash to hone your editing skills. Every word counts here and you know your finished piece has to be at least under 1000 words. With short story competitions, while a lot ask for 1500 to 2000 words, there are many who welcome longer short stories. With flash, you have a definite fixed overall limit.

3, You can come up with any character in any setting or genre because the tight word count means you have no room for description (much) or narrative that doesn’t advance the story. I find it much easier to have my stories character led and it is huge fun finding out where THEY take me!

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When I interview writers for Chandler’s Ford Today, I always ask for their three top tips. Naturally, there is some crossover on ideas here. What’s really interesting is the priority the authors give to those ideas. So what would be MY three top tips for writing flash fiction?

1. Focus on the character. It really is their story. There’s no room for much in the way of description so you need to show what THEY are like by what they say, their attitude to others etc.

2. Only have a couple of characters at most in in a piece. The limited word count almost dictates this, You can have them refer to other characters “off stage” though.

3. Have fun. Set your characters in any era, any world, any genre.

Bonus tip: There are many sub-divisions within flash fiction. I like the 100-word tales but I do write the 250, the 500, the 750 variety of flash tale as well. It is a question of ensuring your story is the correct flash length for the story. Not all will suit the very short (100 or less) forms. Sometimes you do need 500 words! (Besides it is fun to mix it all up a bit!).

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I believe all writers, regardless of their usual genre, would benefit from writing flash fiction from time to time. Why?

Firstly, writing flash fiction really hones up your editing skills. You can kiss goodbye to weak word choices.

In a form where every word has to earn its place in your story, you do learn to select the strongest words possible. No more of the “He made his way quickly up the hill”. It will be “He raced up the hill”.

The image is so much stronger in the second version (yes, you could use “ran”, but I think “raced” is superior. To me it shows more effort being expended).

Secondly, if you can summarise your story or non-fiction work as a flash fiction piece, well you’ve just written a good basis for your synopsis and/or blurb, which I know most writers dread writing.

Thirdly, you have to have strong, memorable characters. As flash fiction is so short with no room for much narrative, I find the tales must be character led.

Therefore, those characters must stick in a reader’s mind. Developing strong characters like this can help you in writing them for longer fiction works too.

Fourthly, you can set your character in any genre or time with flash fiction. You never know but in doing this, you might find a genre you didn’t know you liked to write in becomes a favourite. That’s exactly what happened to me with flash fiction. I gave it a go and quickly became hooked!

Good luck if you do try writing flash fiction and have fun. It is a great form for experimenting with and that is one of the joys of writing overall: to discover new ways of story or genre you want to explore further.

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