J is for January (and power cuts!)

Image Credits:
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Some images created in Book Brush using Pixabay photos. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.
Hope you have had a good start to your New Year. Bit of an “iffy” one here given a major power cut took me offline for several hours on a very cold night this week. Mind you, when power was restored, I found I really appreciated lighting, heating, being able to have hot drinks etc again!
Onwards and upwards though and I am glad to share my first CFT post and Friday Flash Fiction story for the New Year here.

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Facebook – General and Chandler’s Ford Today

Am delighted to share my first post for Chandler’s Ford Today for 2022. J is for January looks at what I like and dislike about the month, shares some amusing “national” days associated with the month, and I discuss its usefulness for planning out what you would like to achieve, writing wise, for the year to come. I also flag up using historical events for story and article inspiration and share a useful link, naturally for events linked to January!

Screenshot 2022-01-07 at 19-28-56 J is for January - Chandler's Ford Today

Hope you enjoy the post. It is such a relief not to be writing by torchlight and tea light. See below for more on this – it has been one of those weeks! It has not been the best of starts to a New Year but do I appreciate my lighting, heating, being able to write properly etc now after that power cut? You bet!

J is for January

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5th and 6th January

Sorry not able to post on Wednesday as major power cut in my area went on several hours. I remember the Three Day Week back in the 1970s when power often went off and this reminded me of that. Not a good reminder either!

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What I had hoped to post is below.

Came home from the dentists today (went okay) to then have the house plunged into darkness thanks to a power cut! I am typing this by torch light. Have no idea when power will be back on though the powers that be say to allow 3 hours. (Update: It wasn’t. Closer to 12 hours!).

On the plus side Lady got to play with her best friend, the Rhodesian Ridgeback, and her other pals, a lovely Hungarian Vizler and Labradoodle respectively, and a marvellous time was had by all. There was another Ridgeback out, a lovely gent of a dog, and it is quite some show when two Ridgebacks decide to have a play fight! Given they weigh 100 kilos between them, you stand back and watch the show! Even Lady does…

Writing wise, I’m working on a talk I’ll be giving in February and looking forward to sharing my J is for January post for Chandler’s Ford Today on Friday. I am also brainstorming ideas for a short story I want to write up.

Now you know I’m a big fan of characters. For me they make the story, they drive the story, they are the story. When we think of books we’ve loved it is, for me at least, the characters I recall. So what is it about characters that will make them work for me?

They have to be believable, even if they are set in an incredible setting. I have to be able to see where they are coming from and to understand their objective even if I disagree with it. I either have to root for them to succeed or for them to fail, depending on whether I agree with their objective or not. I have to care about what happens to them.

And that is the challenge for me as a writer. To come up with characters readers will care about.

And it is not just a challenge, it is great fun!

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

It is a joy to be sending stories in for Friday Flash Fiction once again. Am pleased to share my first for the New Year. Appropriately it is called New Start and I hope you enjoy it.
Screenshot 2022-01-07 at 15-13-01 New Start, by Allison Symes

5th and 6th January

Sorry not able to post on Wednesday due to major power cut. My part of the world was without power for several hours on a very cold night – no happy bunnies around here I can tell you! What I had hoped to post is below. (I couldn’t even sync on Evernote – needs net connection for that!)

Have to admit typing by tealight and mini torch thanks to a major power cut is not fun. I guess it shows that (a) the smallest of lights helps against the darkness and (b) extending that out, the short form of story can show something of human nature just as much as the longer forms can. Indeed the short form can be more intense.

Flash light illuminates then. So does flash fiction! It can be a question of asking what reaction you want to bring about in your reader as a result of their having read your story. So what do you want to illuminate – the dark or lighter sides of human nature?

I like to write both (though there is a limit to how dark I go due to personal taste and my faith). I suppose it is because we all know life is not a laugh a minute and I guess I like my fiction to reflect that. Yes, there are laughs but not always.

BookBrushImage-2022-1-6-20-1432fromlighttodark_medium-2Tripping the Flash Fantastic Small.jpgreflection-is-a-major-part-of-lifeWRITERS DAYS - Try to give your writing an uplift

Fairytales With Bite – Attitudes

What are the prevailing attitudes of the characters in your fairytales? I have a very soft spot indeed for feisty aka take no nonsense heroines. I have no time at all for those who seem to be helpless but whom you know if they put some thought in it could help themselves (if only by avoiding the obviously stupid things).

What are the attitudes of those in authority in your setting? Do they lord it over everyone or do they seek to serve? Is there a democracy or a benevolent dictatorship? What are the attitudes of the people to those who rule over them?

What is the general attitude towards magic? Is it seen as just one of those things and taken for granted or is its power, and those who wield it, feared, resented even? What problems could those attitudes cause for your characters?

Attitudes affect actions. A belligerent character could be useful in a situation where toughness, determination to see something through matters. They could be a complete pain in the neck where you need diplomacy and levelheadedness to see your characters through!

So attitudes matter. It pays to give thought as to why your characters have the ones that they do and how these are going to shape your story because they will. They kind of have to as characters make the story and attitudes make the characters.

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This World and Others – The Role of Magic

Is magic a major asset or hazard in your created world? The answer to that will depend on the attitude of your characters. Do they use magic or have they been used by it? Is magic in the hands of the elite or is magic controlled by someone else the elite answer to? Who would that be? How have they come to wield the power that they have?

Also, have there been any kind of magical accidents which have impacted on the landscape of your created world (politically, geographically or both)? I would expect here people to be wary of magic due to that but what happens when magic has to be used? How are fears overcome so magic is used in a safe way?

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New – and Looking Forward


Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Some images created in Book Brush using Pixabay photos. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes.
Book cover images from Chapeltown Books, Bridge House Publishing, and Wendy H.Jones.
Welcome to 2022! Hope you enjoyed the Christmas and New Year break. I did but am pleased to be back in the writing “saddle” once again. Oh and it was a real pleasure to include a certain YouTube clip below to tie in with one of my posts. Think Hebrides…

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Facebook – General

Bitterly cold today, not that Lady minded. Good to get back to swimming today after a Christmas break. You can always tell when it is really cold outside because it is the only time the water in the pool feels remotely warm! I’m sure they keep it at the temperature they do to ensure you get swimming quickly – it works!

Will be subbing a piece to Friday Flash Fiction shortly now that submissions are open again. Good to get back to that. Am thinking up ideas for a longer short story I want to do. The old brain is ticking over nicely!

Many thanks also for the views so far on my first YouTube video of the year. Appropriately the story is called New. Possibly I should create something for the end of the year so I can call that Old!

 

It has been a Bank Holiday today (and I believe the Scots have another one tomorrow – enjoy!). I find these days feel a bit surreal.

I get on with my usual bits and pieces so I can get them out of the way so I can then settle down to do what I really want to do – write – but the world outside my door is a lot quieter than it often is and it all feels a little odd. And I know I shall “feel” as if I am a day “out” all week! Ho hum… Mind you, I am looking forward to resuming swimming tomorrow after a break for Christmas. Could do with it too!

Christmas was very enjoyable! (Lady gets a bit confused too – she will wonder where my family are tomorrow- there is no way you can explain holidays to a dog).

Now writing wise this week, my Chandler’s Ford Today post will be called J is for January. I look at the positive and negative aspects and share some interesting “national days” associated with the month. Link up on Friday.

I’m back to creating my YouTube videos again and I will be sharing my latest one over on my book page (From Light to Dark and Back Again) shortly. Also see above!

Feels good to be back in the writing “saddle” again.

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What are you looking forward to most this year in terms of writing and/or books you want to read? I want to keep going with the blogging, get my third flash fiction book submitted, and try and submit a book proposal for the non-fiction project I’m working on.

I want to have another crack at the Bridport Prize flash fiction category later on in the year too. As mentioned yesterday, I hope to get to Swanwick in August and I hope there will be other writing days throughout the year. I’m also looking forward to the Association of Christian Writers Golden Jubilee weekend at the beginning of June.

Reading wise, I want to bring my To Be Read piles down (and the one on my Kindle as well) significantly though I am making good progress here. (My main problem with reading is I tend to read in bed and when I am too tired, the reading gets put on standby for a bit. This is something I try to avoid as much as possible).

And I’d like to be published and published again and published again etc etc!

Better get my head down and get on with some writing then!

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1st January 2022 – New Year’s Day

Happy New Year, everyone! Hope you have had a good start to the new year. Am looking forward to various writing events including the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School in August and getting out and about to day events again. It was nice to be able to start to do that again in 2021.

And the January edition of Mom’s Favorite Reads is now out – see link. My theme for the flash fiction column this month is New, an apt topic for this time of year.

You can take the topic in various directions – new beginnings for a character, a character having to face up to being forced to do something new and how they handle that, a character picking up an object new to them and how that changes them.

I also share a flash fiction tale of mine which involves a character having to get new furniture in thanks to the antics of a greedy golden-haired child – for more see the link.


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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Hope it has been a good first day back to “normal” where that applies. (So much depends on what you define as normal too!). I’ve mentioned before that I listen to classical music when writing and have just finished listening to The Hebrides Overture on Classic FM. It is my favourite Mendelssohn piece. Why? Because it really does conjure up images of that fantastically beautiful part of the world via music. Amazing work.

When writing flash fiction pieces, I do give careful thought as to the images I want to “plant” in the readers’ minds. If I’ve decided to write a humorous piece, I will think about how and where the laughs or smiles will come and then work out what images of my characters in action could lead to that. (I don’t always aim for outright laughter here. A story that makes someone smile is equally good. I remember those that make me smile and I know they always lift my mood).

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Nice to get back to creating the YouTube videos again after a brief Christmas break. Hope you enjoy the latest one called NewAnd the Mendelssohn clip above may be “old” music but it is still pretty wonderful. In with the New AND in with the Old!


My column in Mom’s Favorite Reads this month talks about New. I set a different challenge this time too. As well as inviting fiction pieces in on my theme, I have also opened it up to include flash non-fiction pieces on the same topic of up to 300 words. And if you want to check out the magazine, do see the link. Also see the Facebook link below.

It is great fun choosing a topic and writing an article around it. I like themes which are open to interpretation. It gives writers more to work with. I think you’re more likely to come up with something unique too.

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1st January – New Year’s Day

Happy New Year, everyone. This time of year reminds me of a pivot because this is the point where many of us take time out to consider change etc. It’s what New Year resolutions are for after all. Flash fiction by its nature has to have one pivot which changes the character and the course they are on, though it can come right at the end of the story and be a twist ending.

Equally you can set the character what seems like an impossible challenge they have to meet right at the start of the story. That’s the pivot, the point of change, which must come in any length of story. And both types of pivot are great fun to write up! Hope you have a fabulous writing and reading New Year.

Goodreads Author Blog – New Year, New Books, New Authors?

Happy New Year, everyone. I hope you received lots of lovely books for Christmas. Am currently working my way through the latest Richard Osman one and a couple of flash fiction collections, and am loving them all. The To Be Read pile shows no sign of going down much though I think that is how it should be!

So with a new year ahead of us are there new books you’re looking forward to? Are there new authors you discovered in 2021 whose works you really enjoyed? A new year gives us the chance to try new books and writers new to us and I hope to do plenty of that over the next twelve months.

I like to mix up classic and contemporary reading and going to book events, whether I take part in them myself or not, gives me plenty of opportunity to boost my contemporary To Be Read pile!

What matters is enjoying plenty of stories. And I must admit I have finally got to watch the latest Bond film No Time to Die. I thought the storyline there was excellent. However you take your stories “in”, whether you read them, watch them, listen to them, or do a mixture, as long as the tale grips you, you are on to a winner. And I was gripped by this one. As ever with any great story, the characters make it work. They are the story.

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