Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

My latest Chandler’s Ford Today post takes a look at the recent Hiltingbury Extravaganza. It was the first time I’ve been behind a stall too. A group of local writers, including yours truly, were manning our book stand and I’m glad to say we all sold copies of our books.

My post gives an overview of the whole Extravaganza and I also share why I would not have entered my border collie, Mabel, into the Most Obedient Dog category in the dog show that was a very popular feature. Mind you, the pets supplies stand was also popular, especially given so many of their toys and treats were at “dog level”!  I also look a little at why it was so useful local writers banded together to support each other here, a topic I look at again in my other posts below.


Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Have I found writing flash fiction useful with my other writing?

Yes. Firstly, as flash has proved incredibly useful for tightening my editing skills and working out what words are carrying their weight and which are not. As a result of that, learning not to be afraid of the editing pen and being ruthless with your own work when needed. Then there is the appreciation of the need for clarity. You have to be to the point with flash fiction.

I’ve always loved character led fiction and, to my mind, flash fiction has to be precisely that. There is no room for scene setting etc so you must go with what/who drives the plot – the characters. I’ve always enjoyed getting straight into my characters’ heads and seeing where that takes me. This is a positive asset when it comes to writing flash.

Am greatly encouraged by the increasing numbers of competitions for flash fiction too, a lot of which are online. (Great, no postage costs!).

The wonderful world of stories... Image via Pixabay.

The wonderful world of stories… Image via Pixabay.


So much marketing is done online - image via Pixabay.png

A lot of flash fiction competitions are now online so no postage costs!  Image via Pixabay


Fairytales With Bite

One of the great things about events such as our Hiltingbury Extravaganza is that it gives local writers a chance to show the community (a) there is a group of local writers in it (!) and (b) to show, and hopefully sell, what we do!

It was lovely meeting a good range of people interested in books, publishing, stories (or any combination!) and we all talked about why a group of local writers had got together in the first place.

The Extravaganza is a good example of an event where one writer would not have done this on their own.  (There are insurance costs, space hire to sort out, plus having to put your stand up and down again all on your own.  It made far more sense for a small group of writers to do all this between them and share the costs as it made the event viable for us all.  Not sure it would have been for any one of us).

Having said all that, we managed to spread the word about what we do, why writers group together to help one another and sold our books so it was a good event!  Any writer thinking of banding together with others should seriously consider it.  One other advantage was our stand ended up having a wide range of fiction on it from my flash fiction (From Light to Dark and Back Again) to romantic comedy to short stories set in our area to YA fantasy/time travel.  (More details of these in my CFT post).  The upside of this, of course, is it meant it was far more likely that at least some of our books would appeal to some of the people and this did prove to be the case.

Spreading the word is time consuming and you can never know exactly what will come from it but unless you do try to put the word out there, nobody will know what you do.  So I agree with the old proverb that “nothing ventured is nothing gained”.  And having support from other writers, and being supportive in your turn, is phenomenally helpful when doing this.  Good luck!


A corner of books

A corner of books.  Image by Allison Symes


More of the books

More of the books.  Image via Allison Symes




This World and Others

Writing is one of those things that keeps on giving.  Not only is there the joy of creating your own work (hopefully to be followed by the even greater joy of seeing it published!), but your reading should increase and widen.  Why?  To write well is to read well.  I can’t think of any writer who doesn’t read.  So in many ways when you become a writer, you become a deeper reader too (in terms of reading more widely and continuing to explore your own love of books anyway).  (The link incidentally takes you to this post on my Weebly site but there is also a small slideshow on that).

But one other thing that writing gives is an immediate topic of conversation at writers’ conferences and so on.  I have found it incredibly helpful to break the ice with people by asking what they write, have they been published or are they working on it and so on, and before you know it, they are asking the same (and other questions of you and lo and behold you have a conversation going!  This is the way long term writing friendships start.

Then there are the competitions and the thrilll you feel if you are shortlisted or win.  (A little vindication goes a long way for most writers!).  And when going out and about to events such as the recent Hiltingbury Extravaganza, you can talk about why writers group together to help each other, share news of creative writing classes in the area and so on.  So write, have fun, talk about writing, love that too and in all these things, we spread stories, the value of literature of all kinds and so on.  Quite a worthy thing to do really (and if we sell our books too, even better!).


Barbara hard at work spreading the word about books and ours especially

My colleague, Barbara Sedgwick, spreading the word about the writers’ stand at the recent Hiltingbury Extravaganza.  Image by Allison Symes



Karen Stephens shares what the writers' stand is about

My colleague, Karen Stephen, shares with the crowds what is on offer at the writers’ stand.  Image via Allison Symes



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My Chandler’s Ford Today post this week will be an overview of the recent Hiltingbury Extravaganza. It was my first experience of being “behind” a stall too and I’m glad to say all the writers at the HE sold books and spread the word about creative writing, the Hampshire Writers’ Society and so on. More details tomorrow.

What is the important thing about writing? That it encourages reading, I think. Reading widely and well, whether it is non-fiction or fiction, encourages the development of a wider vocabulary and can help develop empathy (as you root for specific characters), It also sets the imagination free to explore worlds you would never visit (especially if you read sci-fi or fantasy!), or to explore ideas new to you.

And there’s always the joy of trying to work out who the killer in a crime novel is long before getting to the end of the said book! I can sometimes guess this correctly, other times the author keeps me on the hop, and occasionally I name the killer but fail to spot the real motive behind the crime. Reading crime novels can be like puzzle solving.

So whatever you read I hope you enjoy it and find more books to relish. I always feel sad when people say they don’t have time to read. That tells me someone is not taking time out to feed their minds with literature. It also tells me they are missing out on a great deal too!


More of the books

At the Hiltingbury Extravaganza.  Image by Allison Symes.  (The weather certainly wasn’t extravagant!)


The writers' book stand

The books here range from my flash fiction to YA fantasy/time travel and short story collections.  Image by Allison Symes


Barbara hard at work spreading the word about books and ours especially

And romantic comedy is represented here.  Image by Allison Symes


Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Do I find it easier to write the funny or darker flash fiction tales?

Difficult to tell as both humorous and more sombre writing come naturally to me but if I have the character in my head and a rough idea of where I want to finish the story, then away I go.

Also, a lot depends on mood. On a day when nothing seems to go right, it can be more of an effort to write anything remotely funny! On days like that though if I want to write about an irritated character, that comes very easily indeed. I don’t even have to put myself in the character’s head for that one!

Writing can sometimes be likened to method acting when you are trying to work out motivations. Being irritated yourself and then writing about an irritated character, well there’s no pretending required. You know something of what would lead that character to feeling uppity so can write with ease about it. I’ve found it’s one of the few good things about being edgy – if you need to write edgy, it will be easy and it can get a lot of that edginess out of your system writing it out of yourself and into a character instead!

The downside? Writing about a real monster of a character and people wondering what inspired you to write that! (Don’t tell them or come out with a really good story like Mary Shelley did and blame it on a dream!). Happy writing!



Dark or funny stories?  Which are easiest to write?  Image via Pixabay


Well, what IS your story? Image via Pixabay.


Am glad to say the writers’ stand at the Hiltingbury Extravaganza went well last weekend.  I share what I think is the worst part of writing a new story and discuss why writers grouping together can be such a good idea.

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What is the worst part of writing a new story? Getting that first draft written or shaping that draft into something that has an impact on a reader? For me, it is getting that first draft written. I never worry about a first draft being rubbish (they all are!) but I do feel a huge sense of relief once the story is down on paper as I then have something I know I can do something with. (I take the optimistic view that things can only get better, to quote the song, once the first draft IS down!).

As for my blog posts, especially for Chandler’s Ford Today, every so often I have a brainstorming session for possible article ideas, put these aside for a while, and then when I come back to them, the ideas which have “legs” will still stand out and those are the ones I write up.



Says it all (though I think the one person a writer has to convince about this IS them!).   Image via Pixabay.


Shakespeare had his quill, modern writers have their laptops. Image via Pixabay.

Getting on with the writing.  Image via Pixabay

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

I thought I’d share a couple of images from the writers’ stand at the Hiltingbury Extravaganza last weekend. What was lovely was we all sold books but we also got to talk to people about local creative writing classes and so on. It all helps spread the word!

People were pleasantly surprised to see such an array of books too. This is one nice aspect of a group of writers working together. No one writer ever appeals to every reader in the world (even Shakespeare had his critics!) but a group of writers, with books in different genres, at a local event?

Well, the chances are instantly improved that our works will appeal to different people, who may not have come to any events we held individually as writers. I very much hope the writers’ stand will become a regular event.

I hope to put up more pictures later in the week – am currently working my way through my photo files!


The writers' book stand

The writers’ stand at the Hiltingbury Extravaganza – side view.  Image by Allison Symes


More of the books

There was a nice range of books – from my flash fiction to YA fantasy/time travel to romantic comedy and two volumes of short stories set in my area.  Something in there to appeal to most people I think!  Image by Allison Symes




Local Writers at Hiltingbury Extravaganza

Has been a busy weekend.  I’m sharing the post Janet Williams, Chandler’s Ford Today’s editor, has written summarising the Hiltingbury Extravaganza at the weekend.  There is a lovely “shout out” for the local writers’ stand, which we all appreciate!  Good photo too.  Thanks, Janet.

I wrote a couple of pieces on Facebook over the weekend which I share below.  If your local event supports the writers in your area or gives them a way to showcase what they do, go and support them.  We loved talking to people about (a) what we do, (b) sharing details of creative writing classes and writer get-togethers in our area, and (c) discovering people were pleasantly surprised to find there were more published writers around than they’d realised!

The huge advantage of a team approach to events like this is this kind of show is not something one of us would have done on our own but for a small group, it is ideal.  The costs are shared (mainly insurance and space “hire”, the main reasons you would not run this kind of event on your own) and you can cross-promote and support each other. It also meant a good range of books on our stand with everything from my flash fiction to YA fantasy/time travel to romantic comedy to short stories with settings in our area.


At the HE Book Stand

Part of the book stand at the Hiltingbury Extravaganza



Talking about Flash Fiction at the Extravaganza

Advantages of flash fiction include encouraging reluctant readers given you are not asking people to commit to too much in one go and it can also be a good way for readers to pick up your style of writing etc before reading longer works by you.

I also love the fact that, due to the restricted word count, I can’t spend too long in setting the scene. I’ve found this frees me to set my stories in any dimension and/or time and the tales are all character led. People remember characters rather than plots so this is no bad thing.

I think, based on chats I had with people at the Hiltingbury Extravaganza today, the word needs to be spread more about what flash fiction is and its virtues. Game on then!

Local authors' books at Chandler's Ford railway station

Report from the Book Stand at the Extravaganza

Good turnout for the Hiltingbury Extravaganza. Many thanks to all who came to the book stand. Good to see you all. What was lovely was the number of people who were surprised (in a nice way) to find there were more authors in the area than they’d realized! It was also good to spread the word about the Hampshire Writers’ Society and local creative writing classes too. I hope if only in a small way we’ve encouraged the enjoyment of reading and creative writing this afternoon.

I also managed to have a good look at what was going on in the rest of the show too. Nice to say hello to the good people of Thornden Hall and the Chameleon Theatre Group. Had to have a look at the dog show. My Mabel would happily have rounded all the contestants up if she could so it was as well she wasn’t there. If ever they decide to award an All-Time Herder of Other Animals category, she’s in with an excellent chance of winning it. Likewise, if they offer a category called Dog with the Stare that Could Cut Diamond (what is it with collies here?!).



The glorious Mabel.



Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Loved listening to Danse Macabre by Camille Saint Saens on Classic FM requests earlier today. I had always known this to be the theme from Jonathan Creek (a series I loved) but now I think of my book trailer the moment I hear the opening note!





Away from books and stories, my other great love is music (in a wide range of genres though I particularly love classical). So much music is used to tell stories (e.g. Romeo and Juliet), and a truly great film score adds to the movie in such a way you can’t imagine the film without it (e.g. The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter).

I can’t imagine how someone can compose a piece of music (though I have had people tell me they can’t imagine how writers like myself come up with stories out of nothing so maybe this is an “across the arts” thing). All I do know is long may such composition continue! The arts are good for the soul…

Classic music can make a classic film

Hard at work - image via Pixabay











I talk about Character Relaxation being a way of showing your readers more about your characters.  What do they do as hobbies?  Are they obsessed by them?  How do they treat others who get in the way of their “down” time?  How do their hobbies relax them to cope with whatever quest you are sending them on?


Encouraging Creativity  ties in with my Chandler’s Ford Today post tonight given I talk about a poetry competition in that (more later).  Here I expand the topic to look at what we can do when we lose our spark and need to encourage our own creativity to come back!


I share news of a children’s poetry competition being organised by my local writing group, Chandler’s Ford Authors, in association with Hampshire Libraries and The Hiltingbury Extravaganza (a major fair in the area).  There are two age categories – 8 to 11 and 12 to 15 – and there will be prizes!  There will also be a presentation at our local library in September and it is hoped the winning poems will also go on to be published online by Chandler’s Ford Today.



I talk about my trip to Swanwick Writers’ Summer School.  Really looking forward to it and catching up with old friends again.  Also hope to make new ones!  Am planning to catch up on writing the follow up to From Light to Dark and Back Again.  Have got quite a bit of that written but would like to get a complete first draft done.


Feature Image - Children's Poetry Competition News