Helen Matthews Part 2 and Publication News

Image Credit:-

All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Some images created in Book Brush using Pixabay photos.

Screenshot of my latest story on Friday Flash Fiction taken by me, Allison Symes.

A huge thanks, once again, to #HelenMatthews for supplying author and book pictures for her fabulous interview with me for Chandler’s Ford Today. Our conversation has led to an idea for next week’s CFT post too.

Book cover images from Chapeltown Books (CafeLit 10 especially this week – screenshots of cover taken by me, Allison Symes) and Bridge House Publishing. It has been a busy but overall a great week with further publication news too. Like weeks like this!

 

 

Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today


Am pleased to share Part 2 of a wonderful interview with #HelenMatthews on Chandler’s Ford Today. In this half of this two part series, Helen explains what drew her into writing domestic noir and shares her top three tips for writers amongst other things. Many thanks, Helen, for being my guest here and good luck with the writing.

Good news too – Helen has news of a special offer for one day only on Sunday, 11th July. See my CFT post for two useful links – one is to her author newsletter accessed through her website (which will also tell you about her books) and the other is to her Amazon Author Central Page. But save the date for the chance to pick up a bargain – it is for one day only.

Meanwhile and looking ahead to next week, an idea Helen “seeded” while we were talking is going to be the theme for next week’s post on CFT. I’ll share more about that later on in the week but hope it will prove to be useful to people.

Small World Syndrome – Part 2 – Helen Matthews

Hope you have had a good day. Changeable weather again here. Hard to believe it’s July. (Lady also not that impressed).

Delighted to see a fantastic review in for The Best of CafeLit 10. See screenshot below – just too good not to share. Well done to all my fellow authors in this lovely collection of stories, who I know will appreciate this review as much as I do. It is also good to see the book break through into the top 1000 of Fiction Anthologies (Kindle Store) – currently at 741 as I type this – would love to see it break into the top 500 – how about it, folks?

When I write a review myself I look for things to highlight and I will also point out excellent characterisation whenever I come across it as this is one of my great storytelling loves. Therefore it is always lovely to flag that up. I keep my reviews short, appropriately for a flash fiction writer I guess. I don’t review books I know, due to personal taste, I am unlikely to enjoy as, to me, that is not fair on the writer. We all have differing tastes after all.

But on behalf of all writers with books out there, I would put in appeal to write reviews. They don’t take long and they do help authors. It is one of the best ways people can support writers they know.

And talking of CafeLit 10, see what arrived late this afternoon. Always nice to open boxes like this one.

 

Looking forward to sharing Part 2 of my interview with the lovely #HelenMatthews for Chandler’s Ford Today on Friday. See above. And something Helen mentioned is going to be the topic for my CFT post for the following week – more details nearer the time. Just to say when writers get together and start chatting inevitably ideas will bounce around and let’s just say I know a good cue for a CFT post or a flash fiction story when I hear them!

Currently working on some edits (and a potential further interview for CFT) at the moment so there is plenty going on with the non-fiction side of things.

Glad to say The Best of CafeLit 10 is now up on my Amazon Author Central page and also on Goodreads. As ever, folks, please review when you get the chance!
Screenshot 2021-07-06 at 20-36-15 Author DashboardScreenshot 2021-07-06 at 20-35-17 Allison Symes

 

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

It has been a busy week but I was so pleased when my copies of The Best of CafeLit 10 turned up yesterday, a good ten days earlier than expected. I have two flash pieces in here – Breaking Out and Taking Time Out of the Day Job.

And to finish the week, please see the link for my latest story on #FridayFlashFiction called No More Miss Mousy. Hope you enjoy it.


Screenshot 2021-07-09 at 18-40-02 No More Miss Mousy, by Allison Symes

 

I talked yesterday about using dates or days of the week as a frame for your story. But there are other types of frame of course. A good one is a journey as you know that has to start and end somewhere. Basic story structure in place from the word go, there.

A frame I use a lot is where I know the ending in advance and I then work backwards to get to a logical starting point. Story frames are a bit like finding the corner pieces of a jigsaw – they give you something to work with and then you fill in the middle.

Ways in to a story are vital. I like frames and knowing my characters well enough. Once I feel I can get cracking on a story, that is precisely what I do but I have found taking a little time to work out how I am going to “do” this one pays off.

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Hope you have had a good Wednesday. Do you use days of the week in your storytelling and, if so, how? I have used dates before (but not tied these up to the actual days of the week) in my Losing Myself in Tripping the Flash Fantastic, which is a story told in diary format. For that the time of the year etc was more important than knowing whether a certain day fell on a Monday. But the calendar (and time generally) can be a useful framework for a story.

For flash, it would be pay to use a limited time frame given you’re not going to have the word count room to go on for too long. But you could have a story set over a week, say, and show what happens to your character on each day of the week without going over the 1000 words maximum allowed for flash. It would encourage a tight pace.

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Fairytales with Bite – Fairytale Acrostic

F= Fantasy setting maybe but reflects aspects of our nature, brutally at times.
A = Animals can often be smarter than the humanoids in a fairytale.
I = Imagination encouraged – what would you do with a magic wand if you could use one?
R = Real conflicts between good and evil reflect on our world too.
Y = Youngest will often turn out to be the hero or heroine, maybe because they’re more willing to listen to sage advice than their elder siblings.
T = Terrific tales, usually happy ever after endings (which we know we don’t get in life so perhaps these act as a comfort even for adults).
A = Action, reaction, cause and consequence make fairytales a gripping read and always fascination with worlds not like our own.
L = Lessons often learned as most fairytales do have a morality to them but get this across without preaching.
E = Expect magic, expect adventure, expect wrongs to be put right, except right to triumph, and expect those being cruel to not get away with it.
S = Splendid and timeless stories – it is amazing how, for example, the Cinderella story crosses cultures too.

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This World and Others – Communications

What are communications like in your created world? Is technology the same as ours, far more advanced, or does it not exist at all? How do your characters communicate with one another? Are there forms of communication only available to the elite and why do they keep these for themselves?

I can’t imagine a world without some sort of communication but the methods vary. Looking back at our own history, the invention of the phone and radio, for me, stand out as landmarks (given how far they can reach people. Radio, for me, had to be the precursor to television being invented. When you stop and think about it being able to talk to those thousands of miles away from you is pretty amazing so imagine how people reacted when they could first do this. We tend to take it for granted now).

So in your fictional world are there inventions which transform your society and how do your characters react to it? Are there any characters who loathe the inventions so much they want to destroy them because it threatens them in some way?

All interesting story ideas to explore there.

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Small World Syndrome – Introducing Helen Matthews

Image Credit:-

All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Some images created in Book Brush using Pixabay photos.

Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.

A huge thank you to Helen Matthews for her author photo and book cover images.

It has not been a bad week and I have another story up on Friday Flash Fiction to share further down.

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Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

Am very pleased to welcome domestic noir writer, #HelenMatthews, to Chandler’s Ford Today. This is a lovely case of small world syndrome as I met Helen some time ago when we were both at the Hursley Park Book Fair. I wrote a report on that for CFT too.

Helen and I had tables near to each other at the event and got chatting, as you do. We also met again at the Winchester Writing Festival. And recently we have been in touch again thanks to #writingchat on Twitter!

Helen shares some wonderful insights into her writing life in Part 1 of my interview with her. I love talking to other writers as I find people’s writing journeys endlessly fascinating and I always learn something from what others have found out along their way to publication and so on.

No one writer can know it all and it makes a great deal of sense, as well as being wonderful fun, to learn from each other by having a good old chat whether it is face to face or via an interview like this one. I share Part 2 next Friday. Meanwhile enjoy a good read!

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Publication News

Great news as the July edition of Mom’s Favorite Reads is now out. I’ve written a piece about Patience in Flash Fiction Writing. See Pages 56-58. And I loved the flash fiction stories that came in as a result of my setting the theme of Patience this time. Well done, everyone. Really enjoying writing for this magazine. (Amongst the other wonderful articles in here, there is a fabulous photo feature on mice – do check it out – it’s lovely!).


Screenshot 2021-07-01 at 20-08-25 Mom’s Favorite Reads eMagazine July 2021


Halfway through the year then! (Did see some sunshine here today – not a lot but there was some – and Lady got to play with her best buddy, the Rhodesian Ridgeback, so all is well with her world).

Many thanks for the great responses to Genres, my post on More than Writers, the Association of Christian Writers blog spot yesterday.

Look out for Part 1 of my interview with #HelenMatthews this coming Friday, 2nd July, on Chandler’s Ford Today. Every writer’s journey is unique which is why I find chatting with authors in interviews like this endlessly fascinating. Looking forward to sharing the link on Friday. See above!

My author newsletter goes out tomorrow, 1st July. If you would like to sign up for it head over to my website at https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com New subscribers to my newsletter always welcome whenever you join!

Looking forward to my delivery of Tripping the Flash Fantastic due in tomorrow. I ordered these through Hive.co.uk and they will have taken just over a week to get to me. Best thing of all? I can nominate an independent bookshop to receive 10% of my order – I’ve nominated P&G Wells in Winchester (who are the booksellers for the Winchester Writing Festival too).

Incidentally, if you order any of the Bridge House Publishing/CafeLit/Chapeltown books series via the Bridgetown Cafe online bookshop, you can choose who to go to as a link. I do sometimes use Amazon. I also use Hive.co.uk. I will add the books via Hive took about 9 days to reach me which is fine. I really like being able to give a percentage of my costs to an independent bookshop.

 

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

It’s a change of mood this week for me with my latest story on #FridayFlashFiction. When Is Wednesday? Is a poignant character study told from the viewpoint of Rosie. Many thanks to all who have already commented on this story.


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Hope you have had a good Thursday. Am pleased to be featured in Mom’s Favorite Reads, naturally talking about flash fiction. Always good to chat about what a wonderful format for writing it is – and it stretches me in so many ways too.

I have to keep coming up with characters (but I love doing that). I have to think of impact on a reader all the time to make the most of the restricted word count so that makes me ensure I show and don’t tell. It also means I have no room for anything irrelevant. I have to find ways of showing you, say, a setting as the character sees it.

A character will not note, for example, the area they live in is poor because they know it is so why get them to say something that is to them self-evident. What you can do is get them to spot that, say, another property in the area has been boarded up and that will imply a great deal. Readers can and will work out the rest.

(With my reading hat on I absolutely love doing that. I don’t want the author to tell me everything. Just leave me the right clues so I can put things together. For me, that is one of the joys of reading).

Halfway through the year already – time for some reflection maybe? Maybe time to readjust plans for the remaining six months of the year maybe? Or will you be ticking things off your list and marching happily on to the next tasks?

Your characters could do those things too. Slice of life stories where characters often do reflect and adjust can work well in flash because you pare things back so all that matters is what matters to the character. Having a restricted word count from the word go makes a useful “frame” for your story.

And if your character is marching on happily, are they right to do so? Do they take others with them in their wake? Is anything or anyone going to get in their way and, if so, how would they overcome it, assuming they do of course?

I love asking what if questions. They are a great way to work out a story structure whether you’re writing to 100 words or 100,000. (Okay, yes you do get to ask and answer a lot more questions in the latter but good what if questions will make you want to find out the answers. That means your readers will want to find out too).

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Fairytales With Bite – Twists in the Tale

Fairytales can come as a shock when you first read them. I wasn’t to know when I first heard Cinderella and was feeling somewhat upset at her ill treatment that things were going to work out more than than okay for the girl! And I’ve mentioned before reading The Little Mermaid as Hans Christen Andersen wrote it unnerved me as being one of the first tales I read where there isn’t a traditionally happy ever after ending. (It’s also a fine example to me of an appropriate ending given what preceded it. You can learn a lot as a writer from reading the classic tales. I did here).

I also loved the fact the girl, Gerda, was the hero in The Snow Queen. I remember thinking the boy she set out to rescue, Kay, was a bit of a wet blanket. But I loved the idea of the girl doing the rescuing rather than just being pretty and having to be rescued.

Fairytales have a habit of turning things on their head.

I know now the way I could not do as a young child when I first came upon these tales that it pays to look out for the “bit part” characters. They are often crucial to the outcome of the story. The wizened old man is probably a wizard in disguise. The downtrodden characters are likely to end up being the hero/heroine. And of course I can use that kind of technique in my own stories but planting early on hints that there might be more to the wizened old man than meets the eye.

A well written story of any kind and word count is capable of being re-read many times and a writer looking for how the tale was put together should be able to pick things up to apply to their own writing. Such as where to place the clue that will lead to the twist at the end of the story.

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This World and Others – What do you like about magical worlds?

I suppose what I like most about magical worlds is spotting the differences between them and this one. (Not just in the use of magic as that’s a given. Often though magic can be symbolic for something else anyway – it can represent power, energy etc and we can compare the power and energy systems we have here with what we’re reading in the stories).

I also like to look at how the characters interact with each other. Is there a class system as we would understand it? Can characters improve themselves and, if so, how can they do this? Does magic help them or get in the way?

And when every character has magical ability, how is that controlled so they don’t end up destroying each other? Even in a magical world, there has to be some sort of control system which prevents that kind of disaster.

I like to see wrongs being put right (which is why I am so fond of the classic fairytales as that generally does happen – less so in real life unfortunately but then that’s why these stories can be a great comfort).

In a magical world, again, I’m interested in seeing how things are put right as it can’t just be by the wave of a magic wand. Where is the story/dramatic interest in that?

At the end of the story, I like to see the magical world and its characters have improved in some way. All stories pivot on a point of change whether magic is involved or not. In these kinds of tales, it is interesting to see if the magic is part of the change or not. Who resists the change? Who welcomes them?

As ever, it is all about character development for me.

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Genres, Opening Lines, and Publication News

https://morethanwriters.blogspot.com/2021/06/genres-by-allison-symes.htmlImage Credit:-

All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Some images created in Book Brush using Pixabay photos.

Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.

Hope all is well with you. Glad to share two new stories this time – one from Friday Flash Fiction and another from my Youtube channel. Hope you enjoy. Also have publication news from CafeLit and an update about my contribution to Wendy H Jones’ book on Creativity Matters: Find Your Passion for Writing so plenty going on. (Images of me signing my contract for the latter were taken by Adrian Symes).

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


Facebook – General – and Association of Christian Writers – More Than Writers

Delighted to share my blog on More Than Writers, the blog spot from the Association of Christian Writers. I talk about Genres this month and define a few (having fun doing so too!). I chat about why I love ghost stories where the ghost is not the villain, give you pointers regarding major things to look out for in a fantasy novel, and ask you what are your favourite genres and why amongst other things.

So what are your favourite genres and why? Fairytales/fantasy are it for me though I do love crime and historical fiction as well. Is there a book that took you by surprise as to how good or bad it was? For me, The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey surprised me in a good way and changed my view about Richard III.

I don’t have any time for the snobbery that can prevail around genre fiction. A good book is a good book and if it is accessible to more people because it is in a certain genre, so be it.

You sometimes have days when there is lots to announce. Today is one of mine!

1. I’ve seen the book cover for Creativity Matters: Find Your Passion For Writing by Wendy H. Jones where I am contributing a chapter on flash fiction and short story writing. Can’t reveal the cover yet. Looking forward to doing so. It looks great. Trust me on that!

2. Delighted to say From Light to Dark and Back Again is now up on the Bridgetown Cafe Bookshop. Oh and the great thing about the bookshop is there are a variety of places to buy from too. See link for more.

3. There will be some fabulous author interviews to come on Chandler’s Ford Today, starting this very Friday, 2nd July, with part 1 of my chat with domestic noir writer, Helen Matthews. (I always learn a lot from reading/listening to author interviews which is why I love having writers on CFT).

4. I’ll be on the More than Writers blog spot tomorrow (for the Association of Christian Writers) with a humorous piece about Genres. Looking forward to sharing the link for that tomorrow. See above!

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Hope you have had a nice Sunday. It was lovely having family over in the garden yesterday (and what change in the weather today – it’s chucking it down as I type this!).

I’ll be sharing the first part of a fabulous interview with domestic noir writer, Helen Matthews, later this week on Chandler’s Ford Today. Looking forward to sharing that. I always learn so much from author interviews and it is a pleasure to be doing them.

I’m thrilled that so many wonderful comments are coming in on my latest #FridayFlashFiction story, Restless. You can check it out at https://www.fridayflashfiction.com/100-word-stories/restless-by-allison-symes

Have sent another story in for them and I’m delighted to say I’ll be having another story up on CafeLit before too long as well. So it has been quite a productive weekend.

Hope you have a good week! (I also hope the weather improves somewhat but we shall see).

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Today (26th June) would have been my Dad’s 84th birthday. It’s a strange day in many ways, as you can imagine. I was pleased he got to see my debut published book, From Light to Dark and Back Again, as my late mum only got to see my first printed story, A Helping Hand in Alternative Renditions (Bridge House Publishing). There is a kind of symmetry to that I think.

I occasionally use a character’s memories in my flash tales. The obvious two are The Pink Rose in Tripping the Flash Fantastic and They Don’t Understand in my debut collection.

Flash fiction can be a great vehicle for character studies like these precisely because they work best when kept short. The impact on a reader is greater too because of the brevity. What matters is getting across what is the important thing about the character you are writing about. What is it about them that readers have to know?

(Oh and on a very happy note, I’ve booked my train tickets for the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School in August. Can’t wait to catch up with people there).

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

When do you know your flash fiction or short story character “works”? When they intrigue you enough to write their stories up is the answer that works for me. As I outline my character and discover more things about them, if they grip me at that point, they should do so for a reader as well so away I go.

Also just a quick reminder I share writing tips and exclusive flash stories over at my author newsletter which I issue monthly. The next one is out on 1st July so if you’d like to sign up for this do head over to my landing page at https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com where you’ll find the relevant sign up form. You’ll receive a welcome email initially with a link to a free pdf download where I chat about flash and share exclusive stories there. (And a big thank you to those who have signed up already – it is great to have you aboard).

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Pleased to share my latest story video here. Hope you enjoy Borrowing.

 

27th June
Delighted to say I’ll be having a flash piece, written as a result of a writing exercise I set for the Association of Christian Writers Flash Fiction group, up on CafeLit on 5th July. That is what I call a result and I look forward to sharing it then.

I love opening lines as an exercise. There are usually at least two or three directions in which to take them too. (That makes me feel like a kid with the keys to the chocolate factory!). I suppose the reason I love them so much is I know I am “away” once I’ve got that line down, and knowing who my character is and what they’re capable of, means I’ve got the opening line and a structure in place. I find that so useful.

Funnily enough it’s not a question of then joining the dots. I still have to show my character developing and changing but my structure means the change is reasonable for the character and so will make sense to a reader.

I can still wrongfoot a reader (and often do) but if you then went back over the story you would find the clues were there to indicate the wrong-footing was possible given what you are shown of the character. (I love this when other authors achieve this with me whether it is a short story or a novel. It keeps me on my toes and I have learned so much about how to place things in a story to achieve this).

Have managed to get another flash pieces “off” this weekend – another one to #FridayFlashFiction. I am having so much fun writing the drabbles (100 worders) again as those are what drew me into flash fiction writing in the first place.


One idea for a story is to take a date that is special to you and make it special for your character. The reasons could be the same or the polar opposite. Either way you could write an interesting character study out of this.

Dates mean something for a reason and, especially if you don’t choose the well known ones such as Christmas or Mother’s/Father’s Day, you could show us a character with a unique take on life due to the reason they cherish the date you’ve picked for them.

Also, are there dates your characters would be keen to avoid and what would happen if they can’t get out of whatever is happening on the date in question? There’s potential for comedy and tragedy there – up to you which direction you take it.

But having a special date will reveal something of your character to you as the writer. If that appeals, it will appeal to a reader also. (Also there would be broad sympathy given most of us have dates that mean something to use and not to others).

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Goodreads Author Blog – What Makes a Good Story Ending For You?

Story endings don’t have to be happy ones. For some tales, a happy ending would be inappropriate. But what would you class as a “good” story ending?

For me the ending has to be appropriate for the kind of tale being told and for the character.

It was clear in A Christmas Carol, for instance, that Scrooge would have to change. It was a question there of how it would be done. Had Scrooge not changed, there would have been no point in the visitations of the ghosts and there would have been no story.

So I am looking for change to have happened by the end of the story. Being a fairly positive person, I like these changes to be as upbeat as possible. Failing that, I’ll be happy with a kind of “yes, that’s appropriate for this character”.

What you don’t want is a feeling of disappointment that the story hasn’t been closed off properly. There should be no loose ends. The character should have learned something and moved on from the starting point of the story. If that learning something and moving on is something I can identify with, then that makes it an even better ending for me.

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The Joy of Editing

Image Credit:-

All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Some images created in Book Brush using Pixabay photos.

Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Hope you have had a good week.

Weather all over the place here in the UK – still it is only June! Writing wise, very pleased with response already to my latest story on Friday Flash Fiction. (Screenshot of part of my latest story, Restless, taken by me, Allison Symes – hope it tempts you to read the rest! Link below).

AE - July 2021 - A great character drives the plot


Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

Pleased to share my latest Chandler’s Ford Today post about The Joy of Editing. I share my thoughts on why editing can be as creative as the initial act of getting a story down. I also share thoughts on how outlining characters or ideas for blog posts can save a lot of time on editing later on (and avoid that oh-so-easy-to-fall-into trap of going off on interesting but usually irrelevant tangents which only have to be cut out later). I also list what I think of as my editing stages and what I do for each one. Hope you find it useful.

(Oh and advance notice. I’ll be interviewing the lovely #HelenMatthews in an in-depth conversation on 2nd and 9th July. Helen shares lots of useful insights into the writing life and I am so looking forward to sharing these interviews).

(Further advance notice – my latest author newsletter will go out on 1st July. If interested please sign up to it at https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com).

The Joy of Editing

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Enjoyed my swim earlier today but you can tell when the weather is “iffy” – the water feels cold. When It is hot, as it was last week, the water feels refreshing and I don’t want to get out. (Mind you what helps is knowing the shrivelled prune look when you have been in the water for too long suits nobody!).

Looking forward to sharing my Chandler’s Ford Today post tomorrow. This week I’m talking about The Joy of Editing. And, yes, I know you will say Allison, you are an editor as well as a writer, you are bound to be biased. Yes, sure, guilty as charged there, but there is much to be said for editing as I will share in my post tomorrow.

So looking forward to reviewing The Chameleon Theatre Group’s latest (and comeback) performance later in the summer. Along with singing in church and meeting up with friends, I think not seeing their wonderful shows has been the thing I missed most last year. (Their performances also raise money for different charities each year so well done to them and it’s another great reason to go and see their shows if you are local to Chandler’s Ford. If you’re not, I’m sure there will be great amateur theatre groups you can support near you – try them out and see!).

From a writing viewpoint, it is interesting seeing words performed rather than just read.

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Hope you have had a good day. More like a proper June day today and Lady got to play with her best mate, the Rhodesian Ridgeback. Two tired and happy dogs went home.

Have got my ticket for the comeback shows from The Chameleon Theatre Group for the end of July. So looking forward to watching them on stage again. (Review to follow on Chandler’s Ford Today in due course naturally – it is so lovely to get back to this kind of thing again).

I’ll be sharing a fabulous two part interview with #HelenMatthews on 2nd and 9th July so plenty of good things to come on CFT. I met Helen at the Hursley Park Book Fair which I reported on for CFT a couple of years ago and again at the Winchester Writers’ Festival. You never know where networking with other authors might lead you! Anyway, really looking forward to sharing this interview as it is packed with great author insights (just one of many reasons why I love sharing author interviews here!).

Behind the scenes, I’m also working on workshop materials so yes watch this space for further news in due course.

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Delighted to share my latest story on #FridayFlashFiction called Restless. A HUGE thank you to all who have commented on the tale so far. This is so much appreciated. (I also love the way this kind of thing helps writers engage with readers directly).

Restless is a different kind of flash tale for me in that every sentence starts with the same word. It’s an interesting technique, fun to do, but is something I would only do every now and again. (Generally speaking given the restricted word count in flash anyway, I wouldn’t normally repeat anything other than say the unavoidable ones such as the, and, but etc.


Screenshot 2021-06-25 at 19-03-20 Restless, by Allison Symes


Thanks for the great response to my acrostic yesterday. I use the technique sometimes for mini-blog posts as well as flash tales!

Looking forward to taking part in the Association of Christian Writers’ Flash Fiction Group later in July. Glad to report we had our first Zoom meeting a week or so ago and it went down well. (I also get to write up flash tales from the exercises set, whether these are set by someone else or me. I’m sure I can find a home for these stories at a later date!).

The benefits of flash fiction writing are learning to write with precision, to think about impact, to think about what your reader needs to get from your story, and to lose all fear of editing. Those things transfer well to other forms of writing too.


F = Fun to write – but the work really begins in the editing.
L = Looking for maximum impact on the reader so word choice is so important here.
A = Any genre, any character – have fun with the format.
S = Story, story, story – it is your character’s tale, let them tell it.
H = Have an outline for your characters before you write the story – it can be as simple or as detailed as you like but it will save you going off on unnecessary tangents. You will know what your character is capable of and why. I know this tip alone has saved me a great deal of grief (and work) later on in trying to fix characterisation problems. By working this out at the start, you can hit the ground running with the story itself because you know what your character is likely to do and say.

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Fairytales With Bite – Why the Bite?!

The classic fairytales have plenty of bite. Indeed, that is one of the things I love most about them. They don’t mince their words when it comes to villains. The stories show you the villains for what they are. The wicked stepmother is wicked (and definitely not in a good way).

The classic stories also like their heroes/heroines to do or be something worthy of being helped by a passing helpful fairy godmother and the like. Said passing fairy godmother is not going to help the lazy, those who just want riches and so on.

Right is also seen to be done. Evil comes back to bite those who commit it (which so often doesn’t happen in life and even as a young child I was aware of that).

What fairytales are not are twee. The characters are clearly portrayed and they are what they are. They also show characters can be redeemed. Fairytales are about choices made and not every character makes the right one.

So bite then is a vital ingredient to fairytales. From my perspective, it is what makes a fairytale a fairytale, much more so than a magical being waving a wand about.

Fairytales are truthful too – and again bite comes in here too. They show you aspects of human nature, a lot of which are not the pleasant kind. They hold a mirror up to our own behaviour – you just need to accept some of what you will see through the stories will be the kind of things we usually like to pretend are not there. Our own stories need to reflect this to be true to the genre. Our characters need to reflect that.

Even the tales read to very young children will show this. We know from a very young age the Big Bad Wolf is not to be trusted.

So when it comes to writing our own tales, we need to be brutally honest with our character portrayal. Are they the kind of character a fairy godmother would help? If not, why not? What role will this character play in your story? If they’re not someone who would “earn” magical help, how are they going to get said help when they need it? Are they going to change in some way so they do end up “earning” that help and what makes them realise change is necessary? Plenty of story ideas here.

Character change is key to a successful story. And there’s nothing a fairy godmother likes better than a character redeeming themselves to get her help. Readers like that too. So give your characters plenty of bite. They must not be twee. We need to see where the characters are coming from and where they are heading.

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This World and Others – Reaching Out

How do your characters reach out to others? Are they the kind of characters who would help others? If not, why not? Are they held back by fear or resentment of others and can they overcome that?

Does your fictional world reach out to other worlds near it or is it an insular one?

When characters reach out, is that as successful as they hoped it would be or does it backfire? Are good intentions misunderstood, deliberately or otherwise? Does this stop your characters from reaching out after that (as it would, at best, knock confidence)?

What is the impact of reaching out on the society immediately around your main characters? Does your society encourage reaching out or make it more difficult? Can your society be changed for the better by your characters who do reach out to others?

Hmm… I think there are story ideas there!

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Acrostics and Focusing

Image Credit:-

All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Some images created in Book Brush using Pixabay photos.

Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshot of part of my latest story video was taken by me.

It has been a hot few days here but Lady, my collie cross, prefers to keep it cool. Image of Lady and me taken by Adrian Symes.

LADY DISCUSSES TTFF WITH ME

Facebook – General

A bit cooler today. Lady and I weren’t sorry about that.

I’m going to have two blog posts to share on Friday. My Chandler’s Ford Today one is on Brand Recognition and Why It Matters. This is so important for writers given we all have to do at least some marketing. So therefore it pays to think what brand we want to put “out there” that readers associate with us and will like.

I’ll also have a post out on Authors Electric, which is called Reading Into Writing Will Go. Those of you of a certain age will recognise the words “will go” from the way division used to be taught in Maths. So what has that got to do with writing or reading? I look forward to sharing the link on Friday when you can find out!

So look out for two Facebook posts from me on Friday with two links.

Meanwhile back in Hot Hampshire I am so glad I live in a property that faces north. It means more heating in the winter but it comes into its own right now – it is cool here! (It is quite nice that something is cool here because I do know I’m not!).


Baking day – outside that is! Lady had a reduced exercise session before it got too hot. Although she is usually as daft as a brush, she is sensible in warm weather, knows all the shady spots to head to, and is the first of my three collies who willingly drinks water! I rarely go out without water for her and, in these conditions, it is one of the first things I get ready to take with us.

I have a good spot on our patio area where I can do a pavement test (back of hand held down on said area for at least 15 seconds. Let’s just say if I can’t keep my hand there for the required time, Lady doesn’t go out. One issue with going out later in the day is the ground has had time to bake, literally, so please if you’re a dog owner, always carry water with you, and do the pavement test before you go. If in doubt, don’t go). (Lady has happily curled up in the shade for the rest of the day and has been enjoying snoozing and woofing at my shopping delivery man so she has had a great day!).

Writing wise, a huge thanks for all the fabulous comments on my New In Town on #FridayFlashFiction. Feedback always appreciated.

Do you find it harder to write in hot weather rather than cold? Makes no difference to me as I make sure I’m comfortable enough at the old desk but I can understand if concentration levels dip somewhat. (I swear there are times my laptop is cooler than I am!). I don’t use weather in my fiction at all partly because I don’t want to fall into the “dark and stormy night” cliche trap but also I can think of several more important things for a reader to need to know than what weather my character is experiencing. I can only see relevance here if you’re sending your character on a quest (and generally you need longer than a flash fiction piece to do that well!).

Looking forward to sharing my next Authors Electric piece later on in the week too.

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Another warm and sunny day in Hot Hampshire (and a sympathetic salute goes to all hayfever sufferers!).
Stories come in all shapes and sizes but this goes for non-fiction too funnily enough. Especially when I interview someone for Chandler’s Ford Today, I want that person’s story and love to get behind what led them to write the books or stories they have. I suppose this is because (a) I’m nosey and (b) I know no two writing journeys are the same and I find it fascinating and instructive to learn from others here.

For fiction taking a bit of time out to think about what makes your characters the way they are leads to better characterisation (you really have got a handle on your person here) and stronger plot lines. So looking for the story behind the story then is always a good idea. We’re encouraged to dig deeper and not just go for the obvious ideas for stories. Looking into what makes your characters tick in more depth is a great way to achieve that.


Hope you have had a good Saturday. Glorious weather here. Lady enjoying it – sensibly. Currently curled up behind me in a nice cool study.

Coming up on Chandler’s Ford Today in the next month or so will be a fascinating interview with someone I first met a few years back at the Hursley Park Book Fair, which I wrote about for CFT at the time. Very much small world syndrome here but a delightful one and the interview is a smashing one. I’ll also be sharing how I met this author again as it is a great advert for networking in person where you can and online anyway. Looking forward to sharing more on all of that in due course.

Coming up this Friday for CFT will be a piece called Brand Recognition and Why It Matters – so I combine writing with some marketing for that one! (I also share thoughts and tips here and look forward to sharing this later in the week).

Thrilled to bits my latest story on #FridayFlashFiction, New in Town, has had a wonderful response to it. Acrostic stories are good fun to write though I have found you want something (a) short and (b) open to interpretation for this kind of thing. In case you missed it, here’s the link for it. Oh and it has been a great joy responding to the comments on the site itself on this one. Thanks, everyone.

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Many thanks for the response to my acrostic flash tale called Fiction yesterday. Good fun to write and create a video for. I have discovered the joy of animations on Book Brush and used a “pulse” one for Fiction. I use Book Brush a lot for my blog work as it is lovely putting captions into the pictures I use – and they look better I think. Only downside? It is too easy to lose a lot of time playing with Book Brush but there are worse writing problems to have!

But it is creative and part of the old marketing so that’s okay then! (And the videos are a simple way to share mini-flash tales – basically under 100 words or so).

Screenshot 2021-06-15 at 20-42-49 Allison Symes

For the rest of the story you’ll have to go to the link – see below.


Pleased to share my latest acrostic flash fiction story video with you. This one is called Fiction and many thanks for the comment that has come in on this already. Hope you enjoy. There is a time for dancing in the streets…and a time not to!


I’ve mentioned before that titles carry a lot of weight in flash fiction. They indicate mood/genre of the story, freeing up precious word count room for what matters – the story itself. But it pays to keep your title short to maximise the impact of it and to allow for the fact some markets and competitions count the title as part of their acceptable overall word count limit. Do watch out for that! Also shorter titles are more memorable and that’s important to your reader (and therefore potentially to you too). You want your readers to remember your titles and the books they appeared in!

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Glad my story New In Town went down so well yesterday. Acrostic flash tales are good fun to do but work best, as I mentioned on my author page on FB earlier, when kept short and if the word or words chosen can be taken in more than one way. Double meanings, as well as hyphenated words, are great assets to the flash fiction writer!

Twice the meaning for only one “lot” of words and hyphenated words mean you get two words for the price of one. So glad to have discovered that one especially as I have made good use of it in my time. (No. You can’t just hyphenate any words – that would be cheating!).

Misjudging people can be a great theme for any story but I have used it in flash. In Tripping the Flash Fantastic, my character, Walter, makes up his mind about the new postman in my story Identity. Can’t say more than that. The story is about whether Walter was right or wrong. But what was interesting here was I didn’t need to give you the postman’s backstory. You just see things from Walter’s point of view and then the story goes on to show you whether he was right or wrong.

I’ve mentioned before that with flash focusing on one character and one important incident is the way to go. Here it was a case of focusing on Walter’s viewpoint and then following it through to a conclusion. I could have brought in something from the postman’s viewpoint to indicate whether Walter was right or not. In not doing that, I’ve made the story more focused and, I think, it has greater impact.

Goodreads Author Blog – Kindles for Kinds of Books?

I love reading. Okay no big news there. I love reading in all kinds of formats and listening to audio books. Again no great breaking news story there. But I wondered if you save your Kindle or other e-reader for certain types of book. I do.

I use ebooks to test out authors new to me and for a lot of non-fiction (especially where the print version would be too big and bulky to handle. I can think of a few tomes here that would break your toes if you dropped the book on your foot – the Encyclopedia Britannica anyone?!).

I also use ebooks for short story and flash collections as these are ideal for reading on a screen.

The Kindle is one of the first things I pack whenever I get to go away (and that still won’t be for a while yet given Covid) and its finest “moment” is saving every avid reader from ever having to worry again about how many books they can fit into their suitcase. I appreciate my Kindle for that alone!

So do you save certain kinds of book for your e-reader and, if so, which?

 

 

 

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