New Year 2021 – Apprehension or Hope?

Image Credit:-

All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated.

Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.

Image of The Writer’s Diary taken by me, Allison Symes. Much appreciated Christmas present!

Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

It’s good to be back in business for Chandler’s Ford Today this week. It always feels a little odd when I don’t post there! My post this week is called New Year 2021 – Apprehension or Hope?

Well, folks, the post does what it says on the tin (readers of a certain vintage will remember the old Ronseal wood stainer adverts that had this as a slogan. Mind you, every time I hear Pachelbel’s Canon in D, I think of the old Wool advert from the 1970s but that does say more about my age than anything else!).

In my post, I discuss the coming 12 month and urge positivity (and I would so love to see a better balance between reporting news we need to know along with news that is more uplifting. I have found too much negativity saps the soul if you let it).

I also encourage building on the positive things. So a gentle start to my CFT writing for this year but that’s no bad thing. Am looking forward to bringing you some fascinating insights from other writers over the next few weeks. More nearer the time. Meanwhile I hope you enjoy this week’s post.

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Happy New Year everyone! Here’s hoping 2021 proves to be a better and happier year for as many of us as possible. And for those facing sad and difficult times that you have all the support you need. I don’t usually celebrate New Year. I almost certainly won’t stay up to see it in. I treasure my sleep more these days but will admit to not being sorry to see the back of 2020.

Writing wise, I hope to build on the good things that have happened this year. Am keeping what I can crossed that writing events such as conferences etc will be back on.

I chat about facing the New Year with apprehension or hope in my Chandler’s Ford Today post this week. Link up tomorrow and once again Happy New Year!

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Great to see a fab review come in for Mulling It Over. This is the Bridge House Publishing anthology for this year. My story, It Is Time, is in there (and if you like a chiller of a story, it is for you). I love reading anthologies as well as being in them as I’ve always enjoyed books which give a wide range of stories. They’re also great ways of trying out authors who are new to you. For writers, of course, they make a great way of building up a publication track record so win-win!

Many thanks for the great responses to my More Than Writers blog spot called Planning Ahead from yesterday (see previous round up post).  Even if you’re not normally a planner, doing some will help you achieve more. (If nothing else jotting down possible ideas can help you rule out what you don’t want to do and that can save you time later).

Massive puppy party over the local park today. Lady had a wonderful time with her best buddy, who is the most sweet tempered Ridgeback. Both went home absolutely shattered (but oh so happy). One good thing about the hard frost this morning? The mud had frozen over so at least I wasn’t squelching through everything!

Anyone for a quick chorus of “always look on the bright side of life”?!!

Screenshot_2020-12-30 Mulling It Over eBook Multiple, Hobbs-Wyatt, Debz, James, Gill Amazon co uk Kindle Store

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

I always find the 1st January to be a strange day, regardless of what day of the week it falls on. It never feels like a holiday. (And this year that feeling it isn’t really a “proper” holiday has increased thanks to the pandemic and the freezing fog. Mind, it has also not helped that the usual post-Christmas walks and family visits didn’t happen).

Have you made any writing plans yet? I’m continuing various things already “on the go”. I haven’t quite finished writing the first draft of my non-fiction project but am within sight of the finishing line so that’s good.

Below is a picture of my writing diary. Am putting this up now as this will be the neatest this book will ever look. My old one was beginning to look rather battered and tired (just like the year itself really!). I didn’t get to use any of the prompts from the last diary but hope to make amends for that this year. I’m sure there are plenty of prompts here I can use to generate flash fiction stories.

Onwards and upwards and forwards then. A New Year is always a time for hope. We really could do with a lot of that right now!

The Writer's Diary

Happy New Year, one and all. I was having a quick look through my flash collection indexes and have realised, while I do tell Christmas related stories, I haven’t written any about a new year. Hmm… if ever there was a time to put that right, I guess it is now, isn’t it?!

Watching the Clock by Allison Symes
I was having such a wonderful time I didn’t want it to end. Yes, I remembered what she’d said about being back home by midnight. But come on, midnight is no time to leave a party, is it?

So I stayed until the bells started to chime and then I did run. What would he think if he saw my shabby dress? I only wish I could have stopped the clock. If midnight never came, I could have continued dancing.

Still I made it home before they came back, full of gossip about who the beautiful stranger was. I couldn’t bear to hear it. I thought going to bed would stop that but no, they were full of it again the following day.

The only comfort I had was when the clock struck midnight this time, it only signalled the start of another day, another year. I wish I could believe it would be the beginning of something better but I have had years of disappointed hopes so I know not to dream any more. I won’t expect more from any new year, yet alone this one.

The dance though is something I will treasure all of my life. That I think is the fairy godmother’s real gift to me.

Hmm… what are they on about now? Something about the Prince marrying the girl whose foot will fit the glass slipper and every lady under 50 has to try the shoe on. I will have to work hard not to laugh when my step sisters try it on. Let’s just say their feet are anything but elegant and dainty.

Maybe this New Year will mean a New Start for me after all. I just have to wait then and keep the other slipper hidden. Wish me luck! It is time mine changed for the better.

Ends
Allison Symes – 31st December 2020

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Hope you enjoy what follows. I thought this would be a different way of getting across a universal truth for writers!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1f3YsXSdrBg

Fairytales with Bite – Wishes a Fairy Godmother Would Love to Grant but Can’t

You would have thought the upside of being a fairy godmother is being able to dole out the odd wish to yourself every now and again but there are rules against such things. For a start, the potential for abuse is obvious. So given the rules, what would fairy godmothers love to grant in the way of wishes that they are forbidden to do? My suggestions are:-

Always making the punishment at least twice as bad as the crime. Why forbidden? Because there would be the risk that fairy godmothers would outdo each other as to how hardline they could be (as nobody would want to be seen to be “soft”).

Also when they are bringing miscreants to book, fairy godmothers want said miscreants to survive to learn their lesson and be able to warn others.

Also the usual idea is to humiliate miscreants and you can do that without using more magical energy than is strictly necessary.

Magic drains the person using it so no fairy godmother is going to waste her powers when she doesn’t have to.

Making cats trainable. This was declared an impossibility millennia ago. No amount of magic is going to change this (which is one reason fairy godmothers have always suspected cats of being magical creatures in their own right, regardless of the connection with witches).

Banning all possibilities of mistranslating a spell. Sounds a good idea but, if granted, it would have meant Cinderella would not have had her glass slipper. That has now become iconic (despite being murder on the feet – though fairy godmothers would see suffering as part of life. The main point they want to make sure of is that they’re not the ones doing the suffering!).

Taking all calories out of chocolate, prosecco and the like. I know. Lovely thought isn’t it? The argument against is you wouldn’t appreciate these wonderful things without the calories. Besides the Tooth Fairy wouldn’t like it. Take out the calories and you’re almost certainly taking out the sugar. That puts her out of a job and she’s not having that.

This World and Others – Marking of the Seasons

How does your fictional world mark the passing of time? Is there such a thing as a year, yet alone a New Year celebration? (Not that there will be much of any of that for any of us this time thanks to the wretched Covid).
Do the seasons match up to what we know on Earth? Or does your fictional world have something unique we would never see here due to the geographical conditions you’ve set up?

Marking of the seasons is something that has been done for millennia and is closely tied to agriculture. You have to know when to sow seed and when to harvest the crops after all. You also need to know when everything is dormant (though there is plenty going on under the soil even in winter, we just don’t see it).

So is there agriculture in your fictional world and, if so, what form does it take? Is there a food based celebration when the crops are brought in? If not, how do your creations survive? What do they eat and how do they get that food?

Even in a hunting community, there should be some sense of seasons given your characters would need to know when they could hunt their food and when their “prey” needs to reproduce so there will be things to hunt the following year etc.

So time matters then. How do you reflect this in your writing?

 

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Twitter Corner

 

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A New Year – New Goals?

Facebook – General

I don’t really start thinking in specific terms about what I’d like to achieve writing wise for a New Year until about now. I know what my general goals are and those don’t change much but at about this time I set myself some specifics and then work my way through them as the year goes on.

Some years I achieve them all, some years I don’t, but I feel as if I achieve more for having set some ideas down as to what I’d like to get done.

One specific thing I really do want to do next year is enter more writing competitions (flash, short stories, maybe novel but certainly the first two). I didn’t enter as many as I thought I might this year though I have been working away at other projects, one of which I’d like to also get out in 2019 if I can.

Whatever your projects are, whatever your writing goals are, the most important thing is to enjoy what you write and believe in it. If one market or competition does not work out for you, see if you can figure out why. If there is nothing obviously wrong, try with another market or competition that the piece or story would suit. Above all, don’t give up. Enjoying what you write helps a lot when the rejections come in – and they will.

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The only problem I have between Christmas and New Year is working out which day of the week it is and I know I’m not the only one to lose track. Back to full writing routine from tonight though and it is great to be back.

Looking forward to using my new writing diary. Full of prompts and loads of places to jot down ideas (including a monthly To Do/Goals page and at the end of the month an Achievements page. The trick here is to try to get both pages equally full I think! A blank achievements page could be depressing! However I plan to use this to help me try and achieve a plan to enter more writing competitions this year).

Under the picture prompts, there is space to jot down notes for story ideas. I’m going to use those to flesh out some flash fiction!

Big plan is to have the novel ready to start submitting again (I hope around Easter time). So lots to do and I start by preparing material for a guest blog and my usual CFT spot. More details on both to come.

Good luck with your writing plans and have fun with them!

Happy New Year, everyone. Good luck with all writing endeavours.

Never be afraid to check out the credentials of publishing services companies/publishers/agents etc as the genuine ones will (a) not mind you doing this as it shows you are taking things seriously and (b) will be able to answer queries well and thoroughly. Also don’t forget you can seek advice from the Society of Authors/Alliance of Independent Authors and their websites are always worth checking out.

Have fun with your writing, try out competitions, write what you would want to read, and read loads! (Magazines, novels, short stories, flash fiction, non-fiction – it all “counts”).

I’ve got a couple of projects planned for the next year including submitting my revamped novel, a third flash fiction volume, and I’d love to do more non-fiction too. Don’t know whether I’ll get this all done but it will be fun finding out – and I guess that’s the point!

Loved the Doctor Who special tonight. Can’t keep a good enemy down, that’s all I’m saying.

The whole point of any story is conflict resolution though that can cover anything and everything from exterminating someone to being reconciled with them. What matters is the conflict is over. The story has concluded.

But while the conflict is going on, it is true that the hero/heroine and villain must be worthy of each other. No hero/heroine gets to win “easily” – there must be huge hurdles to overcome. The villain needs then to be capable of stretching your heroes to their utmost (and beyond ideally, making said heroes stretch too. Drop your characters right in it and see what they can do).

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Had a great trip on the Watercress Line (steam railway) yesterday with family. Always think of the stories of the navvies who cut out the sidings etc to make our railways. So many stories we won’t know but can only make educated guesses at.

When it comes to our own stories, what is most important to your characters? Who are the characters who you MUST tell stories about and why? Think about what has made you choose these people and play to their strengths and weaknesses. A well portrayed character has plenty of virtues and failings and both will affect the direction of the story.

It’s a good idea to mix up how you source ideas for stories. I like to use proverbs, well known sayings, songs can be an inspiration too and this year I hope to use more picture prompts. (My new writing diary has loads of these in it and I plan to get several flash fiction pieces from these!).

It’s also nice from the writer’s viewpoint to mix up how you gather the ideas/raw material to get you on you way to generating a new story. It keeps things interesting for you and you on your toes, which is never a bad thing. One of the things I adore about flash fiction is it is always a challenge to write small but doing so is very satisfying. (Even more so if the story is published!).

One thing I would like to try and do more of is use more of my own photos to trigger ideas and to take pictures specifically with story generation in mind. The great thing with using your phone for pictures is it is so easy to delete the ones that don’t work out. Sometimes you need to do that with a story too but that is much harder to make yourself do.

I try and avoid getting into that position by outlining first (it really does help). The great thing with outlining is it can be as detailed or not as you like. I’ve sometimes drafted a one-line outline for a piece of flash fiction but it has helped me work out which route to take with the story before I start it. I find I then write more efficiently too.

What are your hopes and plans for your flash fiction writing in 2019?

Mine are to submit pieces online and for competitions more regularly. I also hope to post more on my website – allisonsymescollectedworks.wordpress.com – as well.

I’m working on a third volume of flash stories as well and hope to get this up together and ready for submission.

I really enjoyed taking part in Open Prose Nights for the first time this year and would love to do more of those. I would also like to give more talks on flash fiction as well.

But I should finish the year’s posts with a flash fiction piece I think.

CROSSING TIME
‘I suppose you think that was clever’, the girl said.
‘Of course, why do it otherwise?’ I replied.
‘You can’t hold me back. It doesn’t matter what you do.’
‘There’s not a human born who doesn’t long to, you know. I had the courage to try.’
‘Or the foolishness! Most of you accept you cannot beat me. You even celebrate me once a year.’
‘Yes, it’s all lights and fireworks and parties, but you are a cruel devil and I will beat you.’
The girl laughed. ‘How? You’re not immortal. You can’t win a fight with Time. I should know. I also know how long you have. I can see your sands running through’.
Out of nowhere she produced an hour glass and sure enough the sand was running through but I didn’t care. I didn’t bother looking. I didn’t want to know. It wasn’t the object of the exercise. I wanted to defy Time and I had.
‘I can keep you at bay with this time piece, and keep doing so until it is time for me to go. I like my current age. I will stay this way. That will do.’
I waved the pocket watch in the girl’s face as if daring her to take it but she waved it away from me. The watch’s hands were going backwards. I set them to a week ago last Friday. I wanted to see if I could do it the way the saleman in that strange little shop insisted I could.
And sure enough here I was back where I had been last Friday. Just outside the chip shop, cursing myself for forgetting my coat on what was the coldest night of the year so far. What I hadn’t expected was this wraith like girl turning up to berate me.
‘There is always a price to pay for crossing Time,’ the girl said, sighing. ‘I will catch you in the end. Your time will come. And trust me I will make you know it when it does. I don’t like cheats. I never have.’
‘So be it but my “time’s up” will be at the age I choose.’
‘And how are you going to explain that to people? Tell them you’ve got a funny portrait in your attic?’
I grimaced. I must admit that thought had not occurred to me. But so what? I could always tell people I had found a really good moisturiser!
The girl vanished. I went and got my chips. I was just crossing the road, munching them happily, when a Mini came out of nowhere and sent me crashing across to the other side. The last thing I remember was seeing the girl reappear and she was laughing.
I got one thing right. Time IS a cruel devil.

Allison Symes – 31st December 2018

One nice aspect to flash fiction is if you use a writing exercise to help you start off your creative work for the day, then there is nothing to stop you revisiting what you come up with for that and see if you can turn it into a flash fiction story.

From that writing exercise can come an entry for a competition, a published flash tale etc. Give it a go if you try these writing exercises (which often get you to write a couple of hundred words or so. Perfect length for a lot of the flash fiction categories. You can always edit to get a piece down to 75 words or less or keep the piece as it is and look for the 200, 250, 300 word category competitions and markets).

Good luck!

Goodreads Author Blog – And Happy New Year!

Following on from my Merry Christmas post last week, I could hardly call this one anything else!

So with a New Year in mind, what are your reading and/or writing plans for 2019?

I would like to read more flash and short story collections in the next 12 months plus get my own third anthology of stories finished and ready to submit. (Still very much at first draft stage).

I would like to catch up on my To Be Read pile (but I suspect that is an ambition most of us have!). I would like to submit more non-fiction pieces too.

I don’t tend to take up reading challenges because I think I would feel so disappointed in myself if I don’t manage them. However, I would like to widen my variety of reading (which is reasonably wide as it is but I am conscious there are many genres I haven’t tried and I ought to explore. The world of books is meant to be explored!).

Whatever your plans here, good luck! Happy New (reading) Year!