A Busy Week and Relishing Flash Fiction

Publication News

Delighted to say my short story, Three Wishes, now out on Cafelit. Hope you enjoy it.

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Am on the train again today so out comes Evernote and my trusty stylus! Lovely early morning sun over Hampshire countryside too.

I use my writing sessions on the move as free writing ones. The only thing I like to get done for sure is to draft my blogs for a Saturday. I post them later on the way home when I’d like to do some writing work but am too tired to do much. The creative work I’ll do shortly after my drafting while the old brainbox is relatively fresh!

So will it be flash fiction, a longer story, or a brainstorming session for future stories and posts? Right now as I draft this at 7.36 am, I don’t know but I will have fun finding out!

Am posting this now at 7.58 pm (on Saturday 21st September). Have drafted a fair amount towards a new CFT post for future use. Well pleased.

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Looking forward to sharing a new short story tomorrow when it goes live on Cafelit (done – see above link!). One of my favourite things about writing (and I think it always will be) is not losing the “buzz” of excitement when you know work of yours is going to be published. It also spurs you on to greater efforts and that’s never a bad thing either.

On the flip side, there’s a couple of competitions I haven’t heard back from (which by now I should have done had my stories got anywhere). Still, I can and will look those stories up, edit as necessary and re-submit elsewhere.

I’ve found writing is rarely wasted and that’s true even when I decide not to re-submit a story for some reason. Nearly always the latter decision is due to timing. There has been a spate of stories on Subject X in Magazine Y so they’re not going to need another one on a similar theme from me! But I can “park” my story and see if I can do something with it later on.

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Delighted to find out my posts have been liked 1000 times. Let’s see if we can get that up to at least…. oh I don’t know… 1001!!

Am thrilled to share my latest short story on Cafelit called Three Wishes. See above link. Hope you enjoy. Definitely not a flash piece this one but I am very fond of my two lead characters here. Hope you will be too.

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A big thank you to fellow Swanwicker, Jennifer C Wilson, of the Kindred Spirits series (and The Last Plantagenet and The Raided Heart) for hosting me on her blog today. Good fun!

(Am looking forward to having to update the picture in December when The Best of Cafelit 8 and Nativity (Bridge House Publishing 2019 anthology) are due out!).

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One nice thing about train travel is you can get snapshots of scenes and characters by simply looking out of the window and observing, discreetly, your fellow passengers.

Naturally there are times you hear their conversations when you would really rather not! Even there though, you can use how that makes you feel to inspire creating a character who feels the same way.

Do they suppress how they feel or tell people to shut up? What are the consequences? Where is your character going and why? Do they need peace to be able to focus on what they’ve got to do at journey’s end? What is that, do they succeed, and does the journey affect the outcome?

Food for thought there, I think.

 

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My favourite form of flash tale is the one where not a word could be added or taken out without tipping the balance of it. That can sometimes mean my story has ended up becoming a 25-word tale or, more often for me at least, a 100-worder or more.

It’s also the way I judge a story of mine. I ask myself IS any more needed for this? You CAN over-egg the pudding, to use that wonderful phrase. When I’m pondering, I ask if the details I’m thinking of adding in really will make any difference to the story. If the answer is no, then they stay out. Well, they really would be no point in adding them, would there?

If ever there was a form of fiction where you don’t write a single word more than you have to, it is flash fiction!

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It’s an evening for sharing stories I think. I was pleased to share my latest short story on Cafelit, Three Wishes earlier on. Now for a flash fiction piece. Complete opposite end of the scale when it comes to word count!

EATING OUT
The gull enjoyed the look of astonishment on the day tripper’s face, almost as much as the bird loved the stolen battered cod. Dessert was sorted – the gull went back and pinched the same tourist’s mint choc chip icecream.

Ends

Allison Symes 2019

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Very pleased to be guest blogger on Jennifer C Wilson’s blog today.

I will be starting a new series on Chandler’s Ford Today soon about What Books Mean to Me and I’m glad to say Jennifer will be taking part in that. I asked a number of writer friends three questions and I look forward to sharing their responses soon. I answer the questions myself right at the end of the series. I didn’t make them easy ones, honest!

It has been a good week with Three Wishes out on Cafelit yesterday and it’s only Tuesday. Hmm… time to press on then.

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Goodreads Author Blog –

Why are your Favourite Books your Favourites?

I don’t have just one favourite book. Do any of us, come to that?!

The reasons for my favourite books being so favoured vary enormously and can depend on how I’m feeling at any one time. What links the favourites is one solid fact – I couldn’t part with any of them!

So I have favourite books because:-

1. They’re classic childhood stories.

2. They were given to me by loved ones, now passed on.

3. They were given to me by friends and family whom I cherish.

4. They first introduced me to irony and humour in fiction. (Wodehouse, Austen, Pratchett).

5. Sherlock and Poirot are just brilliant, albeit in different ways.

6. The Lord of the Rings – no need to say more!

7. Discworld – likewise!

8. The books are written by me or are anthologies with my flash fiction and short stories in them.

9. The books are written by friends!

10. Some are photo books of my dogs with apt captons for my first two collies and now Lady too.

So why are your favourites your favourites then?

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Plans, Flash Fiction and Guest Blog Posts

Image Credit:  As ever, the marvellous Pixabay, unless otherwise stated.

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Many thanks to #PatriciaMOsborne for inviting me on to her blog. I always relish an opportunity to talk about flash fiction and it was also great fun to take part in her 100-word challenge earlier this year.

Do check out the other 100-worders on here. There is a wonderful mixture of styles and moods. (My guest spot includes a link to the story I sent in for this earlier in the year).

I share how I became a flash fiction writer at all and some of the things I love most about the form.

 

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One writing tip I DON’T follow, because I know it just wouldn’t work for me, is the one that recommends keeping a notebook by your bed. The thought here is you can jot down any ideas that occur to you as you drop off to sleep/wake up early with the Best Idea of All Time etc etc. (It always is meant to be the Best Idea of All Time).

There are several reasons why this tip isn’t for me:-

1. My reading pile is by my bed. There is no room for a notebook! Yes, it is a seriously impressive reading pile. (I LOVE being surrounded by books).

2. I read to unwind before sleeping and really don’t want to be writing at all at that point.

3. I often don’t dream at all. Once I’m asleep that’s it.

4. When I DO dream, the images are so confused and bizarre, there is no way a story idea is coming out of them. (And before you ask I never eat cheese late in the evening or partake of any other substances that might induce such daft dreams).

5. I have never, ever, woken up with the Best Idea of All Time running through my mind. I haven’t even had the Second Best Idea of All Time. Not sure whether to be sorry or relieved, to be honest. I appreciate my sleep, that’s all I’m saying!

 

I’m looking forward to sharing my CFT post later on in the week as I’m going to be sharing some Rules That Need to Exist!

Posts like this are fun to write. I don’t write many “opinion” pieces but I like to throw one in every so often. What I like to do with these is make them fun so no politicial arguing on these ones but hopefully they’ll generate some good comments back again.

I’m also pleased to say I shall be a guest on a fellow Swanwicker’s blog later this week (see earlier – and many thanks again to Patricia M Osborne) and look forward to sharing the link later. And later in the month I shall be popping up on another Swanwicker’s blog too.

So yes I’ve been doing a lot of blogging! There should be a term for that… what do you think? A brace of blogging?

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Looking forward to sharing a new series on CFT in October. More details nearer the time. I’m also editing a series for CFT on local history which, again, I’ll share details about nearer the time. So the red pen is being kept busy at the moment… plus I’m editing my novel. (These things ALWAYS take longer than you think they will).

The only aspect to editing I don’t like is when I know I’ve gone through a piece of work on screen and on paper and STILL miss an error, which I pick up later. The phrase “why the hell did I miss that” springs to mind. If anyone knows a surefire way to avoid that, they’ll probably end up wealthy, as I know I’m not alone on this one.

 

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Loved taking part in the Tuesday guest spot on the blog page of #PatriciaMOsborne. Many thanks, Patricia, for hosting me.

I shared my love of flash fiction (briefly, honest!) and how I got into the form at all. Flash fiction was a happy accident for me. I could do with more happy accidents like that!

Now, is there anything about flash fiction I dislike? I think it is fair to follow up with that question.

Yes, there is one thing, and that can be other people’s reaction to it. I know, I know. How can anyone not be IN to flash fiction at all?

I think a lot of this is due to misunderstanding what the form is – flash fiction has to be a complete story in and of itself. It isn’t truncated prose.

Still, we can but spread the word – literally!

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Many thanks to Penny Blackburn for taking this image of me at the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School Open Prose Mic. Patricia and I both adore Swanwick and have made many friends there, including each other!

I was talking on my author page about a writing tip I deliberately don’t follow because I know it just wouldn’t work for me. So here I thought I’d share the ones I can’t live without.

1. Always edit on paper and not on screen. Your mind “fills in” missing words on screen. Really annoying that!

2. Read work out loud, particularly dialogue, to literally hear if it flows as well as you think it does. You may be surprised! If you trip over something, your readers will do too.

3. Write first, edit later. Never worry about a first draft being rubbish. Nobody writes a perfect first draft. You’re not going to change the universe there. Neither am I.

4. When entering competitions, take AT LEAST a week off the official deadline to give yourself a little extra time to make sure you have followed the rules to the letter, formatting is as they want it, there are no last minute typos etc to trip you up. I always aim to submit a story with several days to spare before the deadline.

5. Outlining your thoughts for your main character and the story they’re going to be in can save so much time (and you going off at unhelpful tangents). How much of an outline you want to do is up to you but I find them to be like a road map and they do help keep me on track.

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I like to start my flash fiction stories by “hitting the ground running”. Often this means I take you straight into the head of my character so you see their attitudes and thoughts (and from that try and work out just how far in the mire they’re going to drop themselves!).

Sometimes I set a scene with a time. (My Pressing the Flesh starts with “It was 3 am. The neighbours were sleeping”. Well, yes they would be, but it is important for my character here to have been certain they WERE sleeping! And that tells you at once said character is unlikely to be doing something wholesome! The title is a clue here too).

The key to my opening line is to try to intrigue. With any fiction, you have to hook a reader in quickly. With flash fiction, I say you’ve got to do so immediately.

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Goodreads Author Blog – Choosing What to Read Next

How do you choose what to read next?

If I’m reading a series, fine – problem solved. I carry on until I finish said series. But what about when I reach that point?

I often don’t feel like reading another series immediately, This is where stand-alone books come into their own, of course.

I’ve mentioned before a lot hinges on my mood when reading. If I’ve just finished reading a dark novel, I’ll inevitably got for something lighter just to balance things up a bit.

If I’ve been reading lots of novels, I’ll switch to short story and flash fiction collections for while.

If I’ve been reading books, I’ll switch to magazine reading for a time too.

The good thing with all of this?

I’m never going to run out of good things to read – and neither are you!

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Guest Blogging and Facebook Author Page Likes

Many thanks to Val Penny for hosting a spot from me on her book reviews site.  More in a moment on that…

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Many thanks to Val Penny for hosting me on her book reviews site. It was huge fun to write! Hope you enjoy reading. I chat about my flash fiction (and what I love about flash fiction in general) and Chandler’s Ford Today

Looking forward to catching up with Val at Swanwick next month!

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My CFT post is very close to home this week. There are some lovely places to walk in my area, whether I’m with the dog or not, and I share some of those, along with some gorgeous pics of a wildflower meadow. Link up tomorrow.

I don’t tend to think about stories etc while out and about. I’m too busy (a) watching out for what Lady is doing or sniffing (!) and (b) appreciating the local fauna and flora.

The benefit from the writing point of view is having that break away from the desk or household chores (or both) and coming back tired but refreshed. (Lady sees to the tired bit, she comes home and sleeps during the afternoon, lucky girl!).

Many thanks to all who have liked my author page. It is lovely to have 50 of you on board now, thanks to you all!

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Indeed! Image via Pexels

beautiful beautiful flowers bouquet color

And you can also say it with flowers! No hayfever either! Image via Pexels

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Always nice to guest blog so many thanks to Val Penny for hosting me today.

I suppose in a way flash fiction and blogging are good “bedfellows” since you’ve got to watch the word count with both of them! For flash, you’ve got room for usually one character. For blogging, it pays to stick to one topic per post. (Ironically with my Word Press site, I can’t really do that as it is meant to be a round up of what I write where, but for things like this post, it pays to stick to one theme).

Have you got a favourite theme for your stories? Was it one that emerged naturally as you wrote or did you plan it from the start? There are a lot of poetic justice stories in From Light to Dark and Back Again. In my case, the theme emerged.

How about you? Comments welcome.

I love the flexibility of flash fiction. There is some flexibility with word count, ironically. I’ve often found what I thought might be a 100-word story works better as a 500-word one, but that’s fine.

You can be flexible with genre of the specific tale. I’ve written historical fiction as flash fiction, likewise fantasy, crime, light horror, ghost stories etc.

You can also go back or forward in time. Your characters can be human or other worldly. You can write in first or third person. (I do both, though not in the same story!). You can write dialogue alone, though I think all stories, regardless of type, work best with a mixture of narrative and conversation/thoughts.

Flash fiction is a style of writing to have a lot of fun with!

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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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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

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?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Says it all really. Image via Pixabay.

THE DELIVERY

FAIRYTALES WITH BITE

The Delivery shares news of my latest short story to appear on Alfie Dog (Fiction).  The link takes you to my Writer’s Notes page, where there is a brief interview with me and a list of the stories I have on Alfie Dog.  The Delivery is about a favoured servant of the Dark Lord, who has fallen out of favour.  Not a good place to be…

I also talk about how vital it is writers do deliver on their stories, whether it is getting them in for a competition or what have you.  If your story is humorous, is it still funny when you review it just prior to sending it off?  Likewise if it is horror, is the tale scary?  This is where having a writing buddy (ideally one who writes in a format/genre different to your own) can be invaluable.  Equally if you’re entering a competition and they offer feedback, then seriously consider going for this.  I’ve always found this kind of feedback helpful.

THIS WORLD AND OTHERS

Guest Blogging talks about some of the advantages of doing this.  This came about as my recent Story Structure post on This World and Others has been shared with my blessing by Valerie Penny on her marvellous book review site.  Valerie’s site reviews some prestigous books and gives good writing advice so I am flattered she wanted to share this post.  I met Valerie at Swanwick earlier this year. Indeed she took pity on a lost looking soul (me!) arriving at Derby Railway Station and looking around wildly for where the Swanwick coach might be parked up!

FACEBOOK PAGE

It has been a busy writing day as the two notes above show.  My post on FB tonight again shares the news and the links.  Am very pleased with Valerie’s sharing of my post and the new story on Alfie Dog.

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I thought I would share my feature image from this week’s Chandler’s Ford Today post as I think I can safely say, with all the positive things that have happened recently, I’ve travelled a few more miles up the writing road this week!  (Important thing is never to end up in a cul-de-sac though!).

My Chandler's Ford Today post for this week looks at where I am at currently on my writing journey, Image via Pixabay.

My Chandler’s Ford Today post for this week looks at where I am at currently on my writing journey, Image via Pixabay.