Inspiration and Grouping Stories


Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated (and many created in Book Brush using Pixabay photos). Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes.
I look at inspiration and grouping stories for collections this week, as well as have a look at what led to me creating this week’s YouTube story. 

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Another mixed bag on the weather front today. Sunshine, strong winds, and rain. There’s bound to be something there someone will like!

Looking forward to going to the Association of Christian Writers Golden Jubilee weekend very soon. I’m running my flash fiction workshop there. I’ll be back at The Hayes, Swanwick. When I get back from that, I’ll need to think about booking my train tickets to go back there again (!) for The Swanwick Writers’ Summer School in August. Hold the revolving door…!

Am running the ACW Flash Fiction Group Zoom meeting tomorrow. Always great fun and lots of information and tips shared. Online groups are a real blessing.

I hope to write up for CFT a report on my recent workshop at the London Jesuit Centre and the ACW one in June in due course but this week’s post really will be on Reading, Rhythms, and Resolutions in Fiction. Link up on Friday for that.

Many thanks also for the views in so far on Beach Life – Maybe which is my latest tale/tail on YouTube.
Link to video further down, taster pic below!

Screenshot 2022-05-24 at 20-08-42 Beach Life Maybe - YouTube

Hope you have had a good Monday. Quote of the day from my desk calendar is “A dog is a smile and a waging tail. What is in between doesn’t matter much.”. Sums Lady up nicely!

I was back using the old random generators yesterday. I’ve created two stories based on the premise of “pet peeves”. I’ll be sharing one of those stories on YouTube over on my book page shortly. I must admit though this was a great topic to write about and cathartic too! Definitely a case of writing about what you know too.

And the great thing about using that topic for flash fiction? You can’t go on for too long either!

You could think about the kind of pet peeves your characters would have and why they have those ones. What is the story behind that? There is always a reason for a peeve so can you get a tale out of that? It’s worth a go!

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Glad to say the May issue of Mom’s Favorite Reads is now FREE on Amazon – see the link for more. (Below).

Now this time I have got things right for flagging up my next post on Chandler’s Ford Today. This coming Friday’s post really will be called Reading, Rhythms, and Resolutions in Fiction!

Am currently putting the finishing touches to my flash fiction workshop for the Association of Christian Writers Golden Jubilee weekend at The Hayes, Swanwick, in early June. Talking of ACW, I’m also looking forward to its Flash Fiction group meeting this coming Wednesday, which I’ll be leading. Zoom has been a lifeline over the last two years and, for groups like ACW, it has made certain things possible.

For ACW, this has meant being able to have genre based groups where the members cannot possibly get together in person. One very positive thing to come out of the pandemic!

 

A lovely Saturday here in Hampshire.

Many thanks for the lovely comments coming in on my poignant Another Birthday, my latest tale on Friday Flash Fiction. All much appreciated. I don’t always sympathize with my characters but I do here.

I do always know where my characters are coming from and why but nobody says I necessarily have to agree with “their” conclusions. That is a mercy I think for any writer because do you really want to agree with your villains or those characters who are on the “selfish” end of the spectrum? I think not!

 

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My inspiration for yesterday’s tale on YouTube, Beach Life – Maybe, (video below) came from a random generator which triggered the question about pet peeves. No problems coming up with a story based on that!

Taking that idea further, think about what your lead character’s pet peeve might be. Focus on just the one.

How would that peeve affect their attitude and behaviour? What would it make them do that anyone else would think odd or just not worth bothering about? Could you get a comic tale out of it, for example? Why not jot down some ideas about what a pet peeve could lead to and see what that could take a character?

AE - March 2022 - Lateral thinking encouraged


Time for a story – well it has been a long Monday so why not? Hope you enjoy my latest on YouTube, Beach Life -Maybe. I have every sympathy with my character, Basil, here.

When I give a talk on flash fiction, I am always keen to share why practicing it regularly helps with whatever other kinds of writing you do.

I’ve found the editing and writing to a tight word count are aspects I’ve carried across into my blogging, for example. It could also be argued a lot of my smaller blogs would count as flash non-fiction anyway (usual word count for that is 500 words to 1000).

Also knowing I am writing to a small word count encourages me to make even more use of those tiny pockets of time that would otherwise be lost. I know I can draft something useful in five or ten minutes to be added to and edited later on. The writing I can get done in that time will be developed further so there is every point in getting it down on paper/on screen.

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The nice thing about any good book is it can take you into different worlds (sci-fi and fantasy etc) and times (historical/futuristic) and so on. With story collections (short stories and flash ones), you can go into different worlds with each story or flash piece you read and all within the cover of one book.

That is what I love about reading flash collections in particular and one element I appreciated when I was putting my first two books together. I love the mixture and often I will use a flash piece or a short story that has especially gripped me to help me decide which novel I want to read next. If I was gripped by a short crime tale, I am likely to make my next novel read a crime one.

What is interesting is when it comes to grouping your short stories or flash pieces in your collection. Do you do this by genre or by mood or by linked characters etc? I do tend to keep linked character stories together as it stressed to the reader these are meant to be linked and I haven’t used the same one again by accident.

Otherwise, I go with mood. I like to read a few darker tales, then I want something to lighten the mood for a bit and so on. I also like to keep in mind what I think my Ideal Reader would prefer. Once I’ve got a rough running order together, I go through the book again to make sure it does work the way I think it will.

Sometimes I find I have to adjust again to make the stories flow better into one another but that’s fine. It’s an interesting aspect to editing and one I enjoy. It feels good when you know you’ve got the running order right and the stories flow seamlessly into one another, creating the impact you want in your readers.

Goodreads Author Blog – The Best Times for Reading

Do you have a preferred reading time? My book reading tends to be reserved for bedtime. Am currently loving dipping into a huge book by Classic FM of classical music facts and figures (the people as well as the musical numbers!). I love reading magazines (especially writing ones) while having my lunch. As for holidays and travelling on trains etc., the Kindle comes into its own.

I like to mix up books and magazines, short stories/flash collections and novels, print reading and electronic reading. I like to see it as keeping my hand in!

But the best time for reading is really any time you can. What does reading do for us?

Well, it entertains, it educates, it takes us away from our troubles for a while, and we can explore this world. We can explore other worlds and worlds which might exist in a parallel universe.

We can go back in time thanks to historical works (fiction and non-fiction) and we can go forward as well thanks to science fiction. We can follow real people’s lives in biographical works and made-up people’s lives across the wonderful vastness of the fictional genres.

Writers take in what works in stories as they try to write their own.

Characters reflect what we know about ourselves. It can be eye opening at times too.

Screenshot 2022-05-24 at 20-50-33 The Best Times for ReadingBookBrushImage-2022-5-23-21-3411

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Kindness and Killing in Fiction – and Snow!


Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes. My CFT post this week has the most unusual title I’ve ever written to but I show there are plenty of examples of kindness and killing in fiction and not just in the usual genres. It’s good to be back on Friday Flash Fiction as well though I could have done without the snow coming back! But then that’s April in the UK for you!

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Two posts from me for 1st April 2022 – not an April Fools Day joke, honestly!

The first of the month is a busy time! Am delighted to share the link for the April edition of Mom’s Favorite Reads. As ever, the magazine is packed full of articles, photos, and, of course, stories!

My column this time talked about Dialogue and there was a fabulous response to my challenge to create an all-dialogue piece of flash fiction with a maximum word count of 300 words. Do check the column and stories out – as well as the rest of the magazine. You’ll be in for a great read but don’t just take my word for it – there is only one way to find out, isn’t there?!

Screenshot 2022-04-01 at 19-47-12 Mom’s Favorite Reads eMagazine April 2022Screenshot 2022-04-01 at 19-48-17 Mom’s Favorite Reads eMagazine April 2022

 

 

Second post!
Okay – not so much sleet and snow today. Lady ran around like a mad thing this morning so almost certainly was unaware of just how cold it is right now. I got my gloves and scarf out! Hmm… I thought I had finished with them for a few months but never mind.

Author newsletter out this morning. Many thanks to those who have opened it so far. Hope you find it useful and informative.

My latest Chandler’s Ford Today post is called Kindness and Killing in Fiction, which is probably the oddest contrast I’ve ever written about. The funny thing is though there are plenty of examples of both across the fictional world and not just in the “obvious genres”.

Screenshot 2022-04-01 at 09-18-41 Kindness and Killing in Fiction - Chandler's Ford Today

I take a look at why characters must have a good reason (or reasons) for their actions and attitudes, though it doesn’t mean the author and/or their readers have to agree with them. We do need to see where the characters are coming from though – that is where realism comes in I think.

I also share my thoughts on why we read crime/horror when the world is the way it is and discuss signs of strength (kindness for me is one of them) and the role of justice in these stories. As ever, comments are welcome on the CFT page.

Kindness and Killing in Fiction

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Am still not impressed with the weather – have had sleet, hail, snow today. I thought March was supposed to come in like a lion and go out as a lamb. No sign of that happening today. Lady literally shakes it all off though she can have little “snow mountains” on her back until she decides to shake it off. She does this with rain too. I’ve learned to side step her when she does that! Having an extending lead is useful…

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Writing wise, I’m getting on with various blogs and I’m planning to get back to actual flash writing at the weekend. By the end of a week, as long as I have managed to get a good mixture of fiction and non-fiction writing done, I’m happy.

And odd moments of time I use to draft a flash tale or brainstorm ideas which I can use as I see fit. Sometimes I will have a specific brainstorming session where I focus on ideas for future blogs. These sessions always pay off because I have things to come back to later when I’m not feeling so inspired.

And you learn to recognize every writer gets periods like that (and in my case I know it can be fuelled if I’m feeling especially tired). Having a notebook stuffed with ideas though is a great thing to fall back on!

When I haven't much writing time

Hope you have had a good day. Not impressed with the weather suddenly turning cold though it was lovely seeing Lady having a riotous time with her best buddies, a lovely Rhodesian Ridgeback and Hungarian Vizler. (Good rule here is to stand back and enjoy the show. You don’t want any of the three dogs cannoning into you!).

Looking forward to sharing my Chandler’s Ford Today post on Friday. I’m talking about Kindness and Killing In Fiction this time. The whole crime genre has a major focus on the latter, of course, as a good whodunnit depend on there having been a crime to solve but kindness turns up more often than you might think.

A huge thank you to all who commented on my More Than Writers blog about Spring-like Writing yesterday.

My author newsletter goes out again on Friday. I enjoy putting these together and I hope you make good use of the tips and prompts shared.

One thing I’ve found useful to remember when rejections/no hears happen is to recall every writer goes through this and there’s nothing to stop you revisiting a story, polishing it some more, and sending it out elsewhere. I’ve had work published doing that. Good luck!

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Am delighted to be back on Friday Flash Fiction with my The Way Time Smells and a huge thanks to all the who have sent in fabulous comments on this already. This story is loosely based on fact and I evoke how a particular scent takes my character back in time. The scent I use here is one that does take me back in time in a similar way. Hope you enjoy it.

I had the idea for this one because the title came to me quickly and I know I would then need a scent to “latch on to” and why someone would link a scent with something in their past.. I’ve found before when the titles come first that tends to also give me a story structure from the start and I find that really useful. That was the case here.

Screenshot 2022-04-01 at 09-18-31 The Way Time Smells by Allison Symes

I’ve mentioned reading your work out loud before to hear how it sounds and the nice thing with flash is of course that doesn’t take long. The other reason I do it (and record myself to play back later) is to work out a kind of “set” for Open Prose Mic Nights. I like to have a balance of different moods of story, vary the word counts I read to, vary whether I use a first or third person narrator etc. I hope that makes things more interesting for an audience. I know it does for me!

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For humorous flash pieces, such as my Bypassing The System in Tripping the Flash Fantastic, I write my punchline down first and then work out different ways as to how I could logically get to that point. I do the same for twist in the tale stories. To me it makes sense to write down what I know I want to be in the story and then work out everything else around it.

Occasionally I have had a go at competitions where they give you a line they want you to put in the middle of the story. That’s a tough call but the way I’ve tackled this is to work out what must lead from the middle line to get to the end.

Having got two-thirds of the story down, I then figure out what the beginning has to be. Sounds a bit convoluted I know but it does mean that I have completed the “brief” and what leads to the middle makes sense as does what comes out from it to the end. I find with these stories knowing what the ending is, again, helps me to sort out the beginning.

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Fairytales with Bite – Time for a Spell?

I’ve long believed that Cinderella’s fairy godmother was somewhat late for the party when she did finally turn up. Where was she when poor old Cinders was having such a hard time of it being ill-treated by her stepmother and her daughters? Cinders could have done with earlier intervention I think – it would’ve limited the misery for one thing.

That said, when is the right time for a magical being to intervene to help someone? Is there a case for leaving intervention as late as possible to (a) give the character to chance to help themselves and (b) to ensure all other options are exhausted first? (Not a lot of comfort for poor Cinders there!).

Whenever you get your characters to intervene magically, ensure there is a good reason for that intervention and that magic is the only option available at this point in the story. Set something up earlier in the story to show magical intervention is a distinct possibility to avoid any disbelief on the part of a reader.

And if you can get a character on the receiving end of such help to do something to help the process, even If it is only by just fetching possible “ingredients”, then so much the better. They are at least contributing to their own positive outcome here.

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This World and Others – Recollections

Memories matter. They matter to individuals. They matter to countries. They matter to a world, fictional or otherwise. Culture is built up (or destroyed) by what people choose to remember. And what is chosen here will reflect a great deal on the nature of the character or culture doing the reflecting.

We, for example, remember the fallen in world wars etc for Remembrance in November. Others may see remembering the fallen as something they simply do not do – they only recall the heroes, the ones who survived.

For your fiction, you can pick elements like that to show the nature of your fictional world overall. A world that celebrates war is going to be very different from one that remembers and honours more peaceful ways of living. A culture that remembers its failures as well as its triumphs is likely to be a better one in which to live simply because it has learned to be honest with itself about its failures.

So what will your characters recollect? What is officially chosen to be remembered? What is remembered but talked about very quietly for fear of the authorities?

What would your characters do if they come across something that has to be told or recollected in some way yet goes against their world’s policy on what is remembered? Will they dare to cross the line here and what would the outcomes be if so? I would suspect there would be more than one outcome. There would be the obvious one of the authorities punishing the character but what would happen if the words had “got out” and others had got to hear the forbidden truth? What could be the outcome from that?

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Travels, Flash, and Feedback


Image Credit:
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes.
Am about to go off on my travels again. Am doing a LOT of talking about flash fiction this week but it’s great fun to do!

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Facebook – General

Busy packing ready for the Scottish Association of Writers’ Conference. Plan to do lots of writing on the train journey. I just love Evernote for this. I still just use the free version of it but find it is enough for what I want to do.

I’ll be off again on my travels in June for the Association of Christian Writers’ Worth Our Weight In Gold Golden Jubilee weekend in June and I am due to run a flash fiction workshop there too. Won’t have to go so far for that one – it’s at my old haunt The Hayes, Swanwick, Derbyshire where I’ll be back again in August for the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School.

I’m getting plenty of use out of my railcard this year at least!

And a huge thank you to the History Writers last night for the wonderful feedback on my talk about historical flash fiction. Feedback is always useful and it is something I especially appreciate from Friday Flash Fiction too.

Now writing wise, when I’ve got editing to do, I block out periods of time to do it as I know I will need to focus. Those odd pockets of time that crop up now and again – ten minutes here, fifteen there etc – are best used for drafting something new or adding notes to something you’ve got in the pipeline.

I’ve discovered this over time of course but I am now better at suiting writing jobs to the time I’ve got available and that matters. It means I end up getting more done overall. Any spare capacity in terms of writing such as trips on train I just write as much as I can. I will find a use for this later. There’s always space for a spare blog column or more flash fiction stories. Little is wasted in writing. You can either find a home for it or learn from it (and ideally you do both).

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Many thanks for the kind comments and likes in on my post yesterday about owing my love of reading to my late mother. I treasure the books I’ve inherited from her too! See below for earlier post.

Looking forward to talking to the History Writers group tonight about historical flash fiction and to the Association of Christian Writers Flash Fiction Group on Wednesday about random generators.

My Chandler’s Ford Today post this week will be a timely one – Journeys In Fiction. So apt since I am travelling up for the Scottish Association of Writers Conference later this week! I plan to post on Friday as normal.

My posts over the weekend will be at differing times but I am looking forward to the conference very much and to reporting back on it in due course. Am also looking forward to catching up with writing friends and making new ones – that is the great joy of a writing event for me.

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Today would have been my mother’s 88th birthday and it is thanks to her I have my love of reading. She taught me to read long before I started school and reading was just such a natural thing at home, it still seems odd to me that there are those who don’t “get” reading for pleasure.

Whether you read the classics, contemporary, the big blockbusters, the flash fiction collections (well, I was bound to mention them now, wasn’t I?!), or are a magazine “fiend,” what matters is reading. From that love of reading came a love of creative writing.

Many thanks, Mum.

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Many thanks for the wonderful comments coming in on Cherryade, my latest story on Friday Flash Fiction. I remember my kid sister and I going to the tobacconists at the end of our road, clutching our empty fizz bottles, ready to hand them in for money back. Ironically the fizz bottles came mainly from a wonderful firm called Corona – there are less positive associations with that word now! My favourite flavour was orangeade funnily enough.

The tobacconists also ran a sweet section – the old pick and mix types of sweet jar – so of course guess where my sister and I spent the refunds. Happy days – and I really enjoyed writing this story. Brought back great memories.

Screenshot 2022-03-11 at 09-56-02 Cherryade - What Not To Do by Allison SymesScreenshot 2022-03-10 at 20-01-14 Friday Flash Fiction

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Am pleased to say the March 2022 edition of Mom’s Favorite Reads is now free to download on Amazon. I write a monthly column here on all aspects of flash fiction writing and I set a challenge too. I talk about random generators this time, something I’ll be talking about again via Zoom to the Association of Christian Writers’ Flash Fiction Group tomorrow. Plus there are a wide range of interesting articles, stunning photos, and much more more so do treat yourself to a FREE read.

Screenshot 2022-03-15 at 20-26-41 Mom’s Favorite Reads eMagazine March 2022 eBook Publishing Goylake Howe Hannah Smith Melanie Fae Sylva Jones Wendy H Macleod Sheena Symes Allison Amazon.co.uk Kindle Store

It’s Monday. Not a favourite day of the week for many including me so it is definitely time for a story! Hope you enjoy Alien Concept – am sure many of you will identify with this one.


I love writing across the genres with my flash fiction stories. It continues to be a great joy to write crime flash, historical flash, humorous fantasy flash and so on. I love reading various anthologies (short stories and flash fiction ones) and I love coming across a good mix.

And this is where what I have loved (and continue to love) reading influences what I write. I have to read some crime to be able to write a crime flash piece for example. The wider you read (and do include non-fiction), the bigger the pool you have to fish from for influences and inspiration. If that’s not a good excuse to put your feet up with a good book and a cup of tea/coffee, I really don’t know what is!

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Am so looking forward to being part of the Scottish Association of Writers conference next week where I’ll be running a flash fiction workshop. Always keen to spread the word about this wonderful writing format! Have a busy few days coming up in the run-up to that as I’m talking about historical flash on Monday on Zoom and will be talking again about random generators for another Zoom talk on Wednesday. But I do know one thing – it will all be great fun! Flash should be fun too. The challenge of coming up with different characters and seeing what I can do with them is fabulous and keeps me out of mischief well enough!

Goodreads Author Blog – Drawing in The Readers

If there was a simple way to guarantee drawing in the readers, then someone somewhere would be a very wealthy person for selling the secret to that! Speaking with my reader hat on, I am drawn to a book by (a) its cover, (b) its blurb, and (c) if I have already read the author’s work. If it is someone whose work I know and love, then it is pretty much guaranteed I will go for their next one.

Out of the cover and the blurb, I have to say I think the latter is the most important. That has got to get me wanting to read more. Yes, sometimes, a good book cover will catch my eye and I will want to check it out but if the blurb isn’t up to scratch, I’m not biting!

Once I’ve got the book though I want the characters to keep me reading. I have got to want to find out what happens to them and to care about the outcome. I think you can only do that with realistically portrayed characters whose goal you can understand.

I also want my characters to be “worthy” of winning through in the end. I don’t want it just to fall into their lap, so to speak. I want them to contribute significantly to their success, even with the help of others. I think you should also be able to see why the others would help the lead character with their goal rather than just leave them to it.

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Heading North Again Soon and Frameworks in Fiction


Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Most images created in Book Brush using Pixabay photos. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes, as were the photos of the wonderful view as you come into Dundee Railway station and of my table at the Brechin/Angus Book Festival. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.
Hope you have had a good weekend. Went to see a live comedy gig over the weekend, booked my tickets for a very special event in March, and got soaked with the dog – so a mixed bag here!

Facebook – General

Lady and I had a soaking while out this morning at the Recreation Ground but other than that it has been a good day.

Am looking forward to the Association of Christian Writers Flash Fiction Group Zoom meeting tomorrow night. I’ve mentioned before that one reason I think for the growth in the popularity of flash fiction is that people read more on screens now and flash works brilliantly for that. It is also easy to screen share on Zoom!

Now when it comes to thinking of topics for blog posts, I start by looking at what I think might interest other writers. (For the moment for Chandler’s Ford Today I am writing an In Fiction series). I then think about what might encourage people to join in with their comments and I also aim for my blogs to be both useful and entertaining. I do know from years of going to writing conferences etc that a topic which grabs one writer is likely to hook in others!

And for my fiction and non-fiction work, I ask myself one vital question. What will the reader get from this? It is crucial there is something in your writing that is of benefit to them, whether it is to amuse/entertain or to give them information which will be useful for their own writing. Do that and it is far more likely people will come back to you and read more of what you do.

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Hope you have had a good Monday and happy St. Valentine’s Day to all who celebrate.

Had a hilarious time at the Mayflower Theatre last night and it was good to see the entertainment industry coming back to life too.

Am pleased to say the February 2022 edition of Mom’s Favorite Reads is now free to download on Amazon.

Screenshot 2022-02-15 at 20-58-34 Amazon com Mom’s Favorite Reads eMagazine February 2022 eBook Publishing , Goylake , Howe[...]

Am looking forward to the Association of Christian Writers Flash Fiction Group meeting on Zoom on Wednesday night. Meanwhile I’ll be enjoying meeting up with the History Writers on Zoom tonight. I’ve been very grateful for how Zoom has made things possible – with both of these groups I would not be able to get to these events in person (well, maybe once a year but that would be about it).

I’ve used a number generator as the focus for my stories for Friday Flash Fiction this week and for my new YouTube video which I’ll be sharing over on my book page shortly. See further down for the link. The number generated was 64. What could I do with that? Well, pop over to my book page in a moment and pick up the link for the video and I hope to share the second part of the answer to this on Friday!

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Am posting early today as am off with better half and other family members to see Jack Dee at The Mayflower Theatre later. Has been such a long time since we were last there.

A huge thanks for the fantastic response to my post yesterday about my forthcoming trip to the Scottish Association of Writers Conference. See below.

I’ll be looking at Frameworks in Fiction for Chandler’s Ford Today later this week – link up on Friday.

A big thanks also to the response to Misunderstanding, my latest tale on Friday Flash Fiction. Feedback always appreciated.

Hope this week proves to be a good one (though Lady and I were none too impressed with the weather today – let’s just say the bedraggled look is in!)

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Thrilled to say I have booked my train tickets for the Scottish Association of Writers Conference which takes place in March (18th to 20th). See link.

Now you may well be thinking that’s all very nice, Allison, but you’re a Hampshire lass so how come you’re heading north?

(Not for the first time either, missus. Quite right as I was at the Brechin/Angus Festival in November which was great fun and I must admit my breath was taken away by the stunning view as you come into Dundee Railway Station – see pic below!).

Stunning views as I came into Dundee station

Another view as I came into Dundee.

I thought Dundee Station looked rather splendid

I thought Dundee Station was rather grand.


Well, I joined the History Writers group who are part of the SAW and indeed I will be giving a talk to them very soon via the wonders of Zoom about historical flash fiction. Very much looking forward to that. Now you may be suspecting there is probably a common link somewhere amongst all of this and there is – the lovely #WendyHJones links SAW, History Writers, and the Brechin/Angus Festival.

At the Conference in March, I will be running a flash fiction workshop. I’m also one of the judges for one of the SAW’s competitions.

So lots going on behind the scenes for me right now, all very exciting, and I am looking forward to meeting everyone at the Conference in March.

 

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

I need to know my character before I start writing up their story but I also need to know the framework of the story in which I am going to put them.

Will it be a linear narrative, a circular story, a twist in the tale, a diary format, or should I write the story in the form of a letter? (I’ve used all of those frameworks in my time and will do so again!). I’ll be looking at Frameworks in Fiction for Chandler’s Ford Today this week where I’ll discuss this further but I do find frameworks so useful. I like to have a rough road map of where I am going. And sometimes I know what the story is going to be and then have to decide which is the best way to tell it for the character I’m writing about.

I do usually write A to B but for twist endings/punchline endings, I write B to A because it is simpler to get that kind of ending down first and then work out what could have led to it. It is also a relief to know I have got my ending in place and just have to work out the starting point.

There are often several options there and this is why I use spider diagrams to help me work out which would be best. And when I say best, I am thinking best for the character and best for the future reader. It isn’t the same as what would be easiest for me, the writer, to actually do (and I always dismiss this anyway because the idea is to stretch myself and not make life easy for me or my unfortunate character I’ve chosen to drop right in it!).

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Hope you enjoy my new YouTube story, At Number 64. I’ve submitted a linked story to this for Friday Flash Fiction this week and I hope to share the link on that on Friday if I can. I am enjoying using the same theme generated for two stories per week but it is also great to have a story with connections to another one, yet both stand alone.

 

The joy of flash is having a completed bit of work to hand relatively quickly but there is a difference between “completed” and “first draft”. I can draft a story in about ten/fifteen minutes (for say a 100 to 150 word count) but I will spend considerably more time after that honing and improving that draft. And that is how it should be.

The first draft is to get the idea down. Then and only then do you look at ways of making that better. Guess what? There are always ways of making things better! But you yourself get better in spotting what can be improved and sharpened over time. You get better at knowing what your writing flaws are and then making a beeline on the first edit to get rid of those.


Hope you have had a good Saturday. I mentioned this on my main author page the other day but I will repeat it here – Amazon have a good offer on the paperback of Tripping the Flash Fantastic at the moment. See the link for more information.

Looking forward to talking about historical flash fiction at the History Writers group I’m part of on Zoom soon. Given flash is focused on characters there is no reason why some of those characters can’t live in the past! And you can use characters to explore that past too. It is something I am hoping to do more of in due course.

History is made up of so many stories, of course, and as long as you are accurate, I see no reason why you can’t explore history via fiction. After all one of my favourite books The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey led me to change my mind about Richard III and take more of an interest in his life and times. Flash illuminates briefly. Why not illuminate a small section of history?

 

Goodreads Author Blog – Visualising Characters

I started reading Dickens as a result of watching Oliver Twist on TV. The film version being shown starred Sir Alec Guinness and Oliver Reed (Fagan and Sykes). Both were brilliant and I absolutely had to read the book after seeing this.

And, again with Dickens, I loved The Muppet Christmas Carol (and still do, it’s a must see at Christmas) with Sir Michael Caine as Scrooge. What I loved best, with my reader’s and writer’s hats on, is where Gonzo acting as Dickens the narrator tells us all to go and read the original book. Quite right too!

I don’t need a film or TV adaptation to visualise a well portrayed character but where adaptations are thoughtfully done, those TV and film portrayals add something special to the book when I then go on to re-read it again. I do visualise the well cast actors. I can’t read a Poirot novel now without visualising Sir David Suchet in the role or a Miss Marple without seeing in my mind’s eye the wonderfully cast Joan HIckson.

So are there any adaptations that bring a book more to life for you? Or will you always prefer the book over any adaptation?

 

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Starting and Finishing and Creativity


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 had a good weekend. Nice quiet one here but lots of exciting news to report this time plus I hope a useful blog I prepared for the Association of Christian Writers on Starting and Finishing.

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You know how sometimes there is no news and then all of a sudden there is loads to share – well today is one of those days for me.

Delighted to say my new author newsletter is now out there (for more do see https://mailchi.mp/22ec1b09a6da/allison-symes-february-2022-newsletter).

Many thanks also for the comments in on Tears Before Lunch, my most recent Friday Flash Fiction story. See https://www.fridayflashfiction.com/100-word-stories/tears-before-lunch-by-allison-symes for more.

And I’m delighted to share the link to the brand new edition of Mom’s Favorite Reads which is free. See https://moms-favorite-reads.com/2022/02/01/moms-favorite-reads-emagazine-february-2022/ – the range of articles in here is amazing. Do check it out.

Has also been a good day for another reason – I’ve booked my place for the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School in August. Can’t wait to go and there is plenty to look forward to before then.

I’ll be at the Scottish Association of Writers conference in March and running a workshop on flash fiction there. So looking forward to that – https://www.scottishassociationofwriters.com/workshops-speakers/

 

Hope Monday hasn’t been too trying. Newsletter out tomorrow, new story video out (will share link on my book page shortly), and pleased to have submitted a new story to Friday Flash Fiction. I’ll be discussing Dialogue in Fiction for my Chandler’s Ford Today post on Friday.

I use more dialogue in my short stories (1500 words plus) than in flash though I am counting thoughts as internal dialogue and I do use that a lot in flash. It’s a great way of taking you straight into a character’s head and showing you their thoughts and attitudes. You see things as they see them and I think it a good way of developing character empathy. Okay you may not always agree with them but that’s another matter! You at least see where they are coming from.

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Hope you have had a good weekend. Lovely to catch up with writing friends on Zoom last night. Always such a morale boost. Am getting my next author newsletter up together ready for sending out next week. If you would like to sign up for tips, prompts, news, stories etc., head over to my landing page at https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com

What would you say was your favourite kind of story? I suppose mine comes from my life long love of fairytales in that I love to see wrong being righted and the underdog to do well. Mind you, that does open up a lot of possibilities for reading material as well as for writing stories. Wrong being righted is a common theme to crime stories after all. And the underdog aka the hero nobody expects to be a hero is a common theme in fantasy.

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I talk about Starting and Finishing for More Than Writers, the blog spot for the Association of Christian Writers, this month.

I discuss how I often get into starting a story by using a random generator and share why spider diagrams are so helpful too. As for the other end of the story, I look at how for twist in the tale stories, it is a good idea to write that twist down first and then look at what could lead to that point.

I also look at whether planning your work out kills off spontaneity.

Hope you enjoy the post and find it useful.

 

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

The new edition of Mom’s Favorite Reads is out and you can download it for free. See the link at https://moms-favorite-reads.com/2022/02/01/moms-favorite-reads-emagazine-february-2022/ for more.

In my column this month (see Page 42), I talk about Creativity. I look at some of the different ways I use to trigger story ideas and fuel my own creativity (and I discuss picture prompts and random generators amongst other things. I hope to talk more about random generators for a future column as these are so useful). My theme for people to write to this time was What Creativity Means to Me and the responses to that were wonderful but don’t just take my word for it – go and treat yourself to a good and free read!

 

Hope you enjoy my new YouTube story – No B Gratitude. This story was inspired by something that came up on a random question generator – the question was what was the most recent silly thing you’ve done?
So I got my character to show you! (There’s also a pun in the choice of music chosen for this one – I was so pleased to find it available to use from YouTube’s comprehensive audio library which is the audio equivalent of Pixabay for photos).

Just to flag up there is an offer on From Light to Dark and Back Again at the moment over on Amazon.

What do I love most about reading flash fiction by other writers? Firstly I learn a lot from seeing what other people do with the format. Secondly, I love to see what writers do when writing to the same theme and word count.

The Waterloo Art Festival Writing Competitions held in the last few years were a great example of this – the fifteen winners for each year, including yours truly, all wrote to the same theme and word count yet the stories were so vastly different.

Last but not least, it encourages me to “up my game” and see what I can do better. Why is that a good thing? Because it fuels the old creativity “grey cells” and helps me produce (a) more work and (b) better work because I have tried to stretch myself a bit.

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Twist endings work beautifully in flash fiction precisely because you don’t have to wait long for the pay-off! I’ve always loved that aspect of things. And the nice thing here is you don’t have to limit twist endings to crime stories, though that is the obvious home for them.

Twist endings can also be punchlines so will work well for humorous tales. And a monologue can be enlivened by a surprise ending too. For this kind of tale, I always write the twist first and then work backwards to get to the start. It seems an odd way of doing things to begin with but you do get used to it. It also means you have a logical plot leading to that final twist. You don’t want your twist let down by a weak start or flabby middle.

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Goodreads Author Blog – Books and Trains

Books and trains are a match made in heaven (especially publishing heaven!). As well as stories inspired by train (and my favourite here is Murder on the Orient Express – the ultimate train, yes?!), books are the best form of portable entertainment and a fabulous way of passing the time.

I must admit I wait to read until I know I am on the train I want otherwise there is the risk I will still be reading at the platform long after the train has gone! (It helps a lot if I know I’m going somewhere like London Waterloo which is the end of the line as I know I can’t miss my stop either!).

It is no coincidence that the major stations have bookshops on them. For me the perfect way to escape the cares of the world is to read, ideally while listening to classical music via my headphones. (If there’s a cup of tea or hot chocolate to hand, even better!) And if I’m not reading stories while travelling, I am writing my own so I love that too.

It probably helps that I write flash fiction which a dear friend described as a “bus stop read”. It works well on trains too!

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Random Questions and Feedback


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.
Good to see the evenings slowly becoming lighter in my part of the world. It’s still January though… aka the month that goes on for what seems like forever!

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Facebook – General

So cold out there today in my part of the world – even the dog wasn’t impressed.

Had a lovely time talking about flash fiction via Zoom to an ACW-affiliated group last night. I do hope it leads to more people trying flash fiction for themselves – it is good fun, addictive, and helps you sharpen your writing skills.

Certainly I’m not afraid of editing thanks to writing flash and it also makes me think about the impact of my stories and characters from the start. Doing that means I am thinking about the reader’s needs immediately. It also means I am less likely to go off at unhelpful tangents which only slow stories down.

And it is the perfect format for those times when you don’t have much time to write. You can get something drafted in a few minutes. The great thing is it doesn’t have to be perfect. That’s what the editing stages are for!

 

Has been a good Monday for me – as busy as ever but I seemed to get more things done more quickly. I wish all Mondays were like that. Still you treasure the good ones you get!

I’ve used the same prompt (from a random question generator) to trigger two stories. One I’ve submitted to Friday Flash Fiction and the other one I’ll share on my book page shortly as it is the latest in my YouTube videos. The question generated was what makes you cry? Link further down.

Interesting one as you can take this in a tragic direction but there is a possibility for comedy too (which is the direction I’ve taken). And of course you can adjust it to think about what would make your character cry.

I love random generators. They really make me put my thinking cap on.

 

Have been enjoying a quiet weekend. I’ll be taking a broad look at Characters in Fiction for Chandler’s Ford Today later this week. Looking forward to sharing that on Friday. Have been spending time preparing pieces for different blog spots – plenty to keep me out of mischief anyway!

And I am also getting my author newsletter together ready for that to go out on 1st February. (Do head over to my landing page at https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com if you would like to sign up – I share news, tips, prompts, videos etc here).

What is the one thing you like most about writing? I know it’s hard to say but for me that feeling of knowing you’ve created a piece of work that you can’t improve any more and someone else has accepted it – well, it is hard to beat that one!

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Hope you have had a good Saturday. Many thanks for the comments coming in on Someone Like Her my latest tale on Friday Flash Fiction. It is lovely receiving feedback from other readers on this site and I love reading through the other stories too.

What I find helpful in feedback I receive is in finding out what readers responded to – was it the character, the twist ending etc? (This is another reason why book reviews matter – it isn’t just the number received, it is what is said here as well).

And in giving feedback, I look to stress the positives, share what I think can be improved, and maybe make market suggestions if something obvious comes to mind. Sometimes a story you’re reading for a competition just calls into mind a possible market for it.

Am looking forward to giving a Zoom talk on Monday night too. So all go at the moment but in a very good way.

Screenshot 2022-01-21 at 19-08-10 Someone Like Her, by Allison SymesBookBrushImage-2022-1-25-20-3855

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Many thanks for the views coming in so far on Crying, my latest YouTube video. Much appreciated, always.  See video link below.

For a short story like this one, I nearly always go for using the first person. I can take you straight into my character’s head and show you their thoughts, attitudes and actions. I like to think of it as “hitting the ground running”.

The funny thing here though is I had barely used first person before writing flash fiction. I suppose for a short word count format the immediacy of the “I” character has more impact than it would do in a longer piece where its effect might be “diluted” a bit. I do know it works really well in flash though.

 

Pleased to be sharing my latest YouTube story called Crying. This came from a random question generator and the question that came up was what makes you cry? Find out here what makes my character cry. Hope you enjoy it.


I’ve never liked those stories where the description seems to go on for ever and ever, amen. Funnily enough I have no problems here with classic novels where the writers had to spell everything out for their readers (no TV, no film, no easy way of a reader visualising what London looks like etc).

But in this day and age where we can get a good idea of what a place looks like because of our experiences with TV and film, I certainly don’t want to see that kind of description in any kind of story.

This is where flash fiction comes into its own. It makes you focus on only the most important things that have to go into the story for it to make sense. Having to work to a tight word count means you have to make choices but it is all for the good of the story – and that is always a great thing. Regardless of what we write, we should always be focusing on what is for the good of the story (which is where that famous phrase about “killing your darlings” comes in I suspect).

(But if you do want a great read right now and one which is free how about following this link to Mom’s Favorite Reads?).

 

Am giving a Zoom talk on Monday night about flash fiction. Love talking about that. I also think it is a great form for people who don’t have a lot of time to write but know they want to write something! And you can. Over time you can build up another flash stories for your own collections etc. I remain convinced in learning to write to a tight word count, that skill will carry over into writing query letters, synopses etc that also have to “not go on for too long” and convey information to attract an agent/publisher quickly.

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Goodreads Author Blog – Best Friends in Fiction

With my other writing hat on, I blog including for a weekly online magazine. My current topic for them is Best Friends in Fiction but I realised it would be a good topic for Goodreads too. When a lead character and their best friend/sidekick character are well portrayed, it is a joy to read their adventures and the interactions between them.

Can you imagine Holmes without Watson or Wooster without Jeeves? So many classic stories depend on the best friend character – and across genres too. Think Sam Gamgee and his support of Frodo Baggins in The Lord of the Rings. (It was literal support at some points too).

Characterisation has always been what makes or breaks a story (of any length) for me. I have got to understand where the characters are coming from, even if I disagree with their attitudes and actions. And for lead and best friend characters I have got to see why the lead has the best friend character they do.

Holmes is a genius but needs Watson to temper that but Holmes does recognise that. Watson knows he can never be as brilliant as Holmes but knows he has his own role to play that could not be fulfilled by Holmes. Can you imagine Holmes trying to narrate a story for the masses? Err… no I think!

Do you have any favourite best friend fictional characters and if so why have you chosen these? Mine is Sam Gamgee – you can’t beat the guy for loyalty and guts when it matters.

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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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Back from London, Festive Flash Fiction, and Random Name Generators

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. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes, as were the photos of the Theodore Bulldog pub in Charing Cross. Yes, I’ve been out and about again. More to come on that on Friday’s post. Also thanks to Lynn Clement for her author and book cover pictures. Thanks to Adrian Symes for the author pic of yours truly. (I am rubbish at selfies incidentally).
Hope you have had a good weekend/start to the week. Wild weather in Britain right now. Am thankful writing is generally an indoor activity.

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Facebook – General

Am so pleased to say a festive flash fiction piece of mine will be broadcast on Hannah Kate’s show on North Manchester FM on 18th December. More details nearer the time (and I hope to share a link to the broadcast later too). I just love the sound of her Three Minute Santas flash fiction special – definitely had to send something in for that one.

Huge congratulations to Rosemary Johnson, who will also have a story of hers broadcast on the show. Looking forward to listening to that and the show full of stories. (That is such a lovely thought, isn’t it?).

In other news, I will be looking back at the recent Bridge House Publishing events (on Zoom and in the in-person one) for Chandler’s Ford Today this week. Link up on Friday.

Allison Symes - Chandlers Ford Today headerAlways a joy to talk or write about flash fiction


Yesterday, I used a random name generator to trigger thoughts for a story for Friday Flash Fiction this week and for my YouTube channel. I only picked first names and it came up with Alison! (Yes, really and spelled the usual way rather than mine with the double l. My late parents could not have foreseen the invention of email and the need for me to spell out my name in full each and every time to ensure I get any email at all!).

Anyway, I will share on my book page shortly the YouTube story I’ve come up with based on my mysterious Alison. Link further down. Will let you know on Friday if the other story was taken by Friday Flash Fiction.

Good fun to do and I don’t recall using a name generator before. The one I used allowed you to set first name only, first name and surname, and even concoct a life story for the name generated. I might have a look at that at some point but I do think it much more fun to concoct the life story myself – that is the story! (I must admit though I am a little curious as to what the generator might come up with).

 

Quiet day today. Bitterly cold again too. Looking forward to seeing how Doctor Who pans out tonight. It is about the only programme I watch live now. Am interested to see how the story threads tied up with this series given it ends this evening. Naturally I am bound to take an interest in that.

I will be thinking soon about my end-of-year post for Chandler’s Ford Today. I usually wrap up with some festive stories, limericks etc. Great fun to do.

And I am pleased to say the latest issue of Mom’s Favorite Reads is now now – do see the link. The magazine is packed full of wonderful items and it is free! What is there not to like about that?

Am thrilled to see my two flash fiction collections showcased here as one of MFR’s authors. And this month I talk about Festivities. I share a festive related flash piece here and a big thanks to those who sent in flash pieces on the theme. They are a joy to read.

Screenshot 2021-12-05 at 17-01-01 Mom‘s Favorite Reads eMagazine December 2021

https://moms-favorite-reads.com/2021/12/04/moms-favorite-reads-emagazine-december-2021/

Have been to the Bridge House Publishing celebration event in London today. It was lovely to see so many friends in person again. The ones who couldn’t make it – you were missed!

I’ll chat about this more for my Chandler’s Ford Today post next week but when I say the event started with a wonderful lunch at the Theodore Bulldog pub, you can guess what a fabulous time was had by all!

Many thanks for the great comments already in on Specialist Subject, my latest tale on Friday Flash Fiction.

On a more serious note, I will flag up I block anyone who posts on my threads asking for friendship. You make a friend request properly or not at all.

Usually I take the original post down but the latest comment came in on my post yesterday sharing the link to my story.

I thought this time I would take the chance to call this behaviour out. At best it is phishing and I don’t want to know. I’m here to talk about writing, share links to where I have work published etc.

I am a little amused so many widowed US generals and Army surgeons want to be my friend though!

Anyway, please be aware, folks.

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

I had a lovely surprise at my Slimming World group tonight. Back in 2017, I held a book signing at my local railway station for From Light to Dark and Back Again. I was chatting to someone tonight who remembered it.

I was hoping to do the same again for the launch of Tripping The Flash Fantastic last year but You Know What scuppered that. I do hope to have another launch at this location again at some point as the community people who are behind looking after the local stations are all for it and I found it worked really well.

It was easy to show people what flash fiction is by reading some and that did lead to sales. Also flash fiction is perfect for a quick read – when you’re out and about on the train or bus, well it would fit in very nicely there. But I was touched that my event was remembered. That means a lot.

It’s the start of the working week. It’s story time once again! Hope you enjoy my latest YouTube video called Clearing Up Again. Find out why Alison would never be surprised at a teddy bear’s picnic. (Alison is the name generated by a random name generator. I often use these to trigger ideas “outside of the box” for stories. I don’t recall using one for names before though I have used random noun, adjective, questions, and even number ones before).


The latest issue of Mom’s Favorite Reads is now out. My column here is about Festivities and I share various ways in how this theme can be used to produce excellent flash fiction stories, as well as sharing one I’ve written. And do check out the flash stories people wrote to this theme. There is a wonderful mix here. And it is a free read – there is never a time when that isn’t good news. If you like a good mix of articles and stories, check out Mom’s Favorite Reads.

 

Good to see flash fiction celebrated as part of the Bridge House Publishing celebration event today.

It was especially nice to catch up with Lynn Clement, author of The City of Stories, which was recently published by Chapeltown Books. I edited this one and interviewed Lynn for Chandler’s Ford Today but it was so nice to meet up in person once again.

And if you want to write but don’t know quite where to start, why not try the shorter forms of fiction? There are indie publishers out there who take collections and writing the shorter forms will help you hone your skills for longer narratives.

Goodreads Author Blog – Books Acrostic

B = Bound to be several styles of book to suit you in terms of genre and format.
O = Original, captivating stories of all word counts are out there waiting for you to discover them.
O = One book or a series? Your call and there are many wonderful examples of both.
K = Kindle – a great and cheap way of discovering authors new to you.
S = Stories – one of the very best things about humanity. Think of the imaginations behind them.

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Twitter Corner

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Stories, Editing, and a Press Appearance

Image Credit:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Some images created in Book Brush using Pixabay photos.
Many thanks to Sarah Archibald for images related to the recent Brechin/Angus Book Festival. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes.
Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing (though the image of CafeLit 10 was my usual keen author opening their box of books shot!). It has been a strange week. I started the week in Dundee, after a lovely time at the Festival, and am now back at my desk, getting down to the nitty-gritty of the writing life (and loving that). Am very appreciative of the joy creative writing has given and continues to give me.

Creative writing is a joy

Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

Am so pleased to welcome back Lynn Clement to Chandler’s Ford Today. This week we talk about editing. I had the pleasure of editing Lynn’s flash fiction collection, The City of Stories, recently. Lynn shares how she found the vigorous three stage editing process Chapeltown Books has and what her approach to editing is amongst other topics. Hope you enjoy the post and pick up useful thoughts here. I hope it is some consolation that editing is hard work but oh so worth it when you know your book is sharper, tighter, flows better than it did before. It is worth it, folks, honest!

And what is really nice is I am due to meet up with Lynn again in person at the Bridge House Publishing celebration event on 4th December. Looking forward to catching up with her and other Bridge House/CafeLit/Chapeltown Books authors then (and many of us write for all three!).

Introducing Lynn Clement – Part 2 – The Editing

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Pleased to share the following link kindly forwarded to be by Sarah Archibald – a lovely write up and pic of the authors taking part in the Brechin/Angus Book Festival. Must admit the last time I sat in a group like this, I was at school! (Also first time I’ve been in a newspaper so feeling a bit chuffed I must say).

Success for Brechin/Angus Book Festival event

Screenshot 2021-11-26 at 20-29-20 Success for Brechin Angus Book Festival event Angus World

Hope you’ve had a good day. I’m in that “back to the office after a break” kind of routine and am trying to catch up with paperwork.

Had a lovely time on the Association of Christian Writers Flash Group meeting tonight. Groups like this are useful for sharing tips and advice, reading stories out and receiving feedback. We’re not meeting next month (I’ll leave you to guess why!) but look forward to meeting up with everyone again on Zoom in January. And that will be with us before we know it. (Oh and I did come up with an idea I hope to write up soon as a result of our discussions tonight – I always welcome things like that!).

PS. Since writing the above post, I did write up the idea I came up with during this meeting and have since submitted the story. Will let you know if it goes anywhere.

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Am pleased I managed to get a story in for Friday Flash Fiction this week after all. Hope you enjoy my latest here (and many thanks for the comments in on it already). What could possibly go wrong when a witch decides to have a house rebuild? Find out here!

Screenshot 2021-11-26 at 19-21-09 Moving Along, by Allison Symes


Firstly, had a lovely Zoom session last night with the Association of Christian Writers Flash Fiction Group. Plenty of feedback and tips shared. (Another advantage here is there is a lot of great advice for writing flash that can be taken to help you improve standard length short stories too).

Secondly, I’m pleased to share a link to flash fiction on Mom’s Favorite Reads. Don’t forget the magazine is free, has a wide range of articles and stories, and I will be setting the theme for the next edition soon. Always fun to do that!

Last but not least, I will be talking again with Lynn Clement on Chandler’s Ford Today tomorrow. I recently edited Lynn’s flash fiction collection, The City of Stories, for Chapeltown Books. Tomorrow Lynn and I will discuss the editing process. See link above.

 

Screenshot 2021-11-26 at 20-38-51 Flash Fiction


Pleased to share my latest YouTube story. Hope you enjoy A Turn Up For the Books. What happens when healthy eating impacts on the fairy world? Find out here!

Fairytales With Bite – Magical Livelihoods

What kind of jobs could exist in the magical world other than the obvious ones of wizard, fairy godmother etc? How about these?

Ingredient Fetcher – always out in the fresh air. Works for witches, wizards and those fairy godmothers who like to use wildlife in their spells. Must love amphibians (as eye of newt comes up a lot in this job).

Spell Book Translator – If you’ve ever read Old English, you will know how difficult it is to read (especially over a longer document). Old spell books are much the same. They need translating into more modern magical speech. And these things don’t happen as if by magic, oh no. Someone has to do them.

Food Preparer – Definitely not a cook. This job means taking the shiniest red apples the ingredient fetcher has brought you and selecting the very best to go through to the boss, who no doubt has something to add to them herself. And you dare not bring her anything less than the best. The boss won’t sack you if you do. She’ll just do a trial run of her special ingredient on the sub-standard apple you’ve brought her and make you eat it. Get it right though and there will be rewards (including getting to live for another day).

Cleaners – Always needed regardless of what world you live in. Use of magic to do the job strictly banned since that spot of bother with the Sorcerer’s Apprentice.

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This World and Others – Employment Issues

What kind of employment opportunities exist in your fictional world? Do jobs match what we have here or are there work placements which could only exist in your fiction? Can anyone apply for jobs based on merit or is there a strict system where only those from a certain type of background can apply for certain types of work?

How does your society pay for goods and services? How are these things produced? Is magic allowed to be used? Is there such as thing as a working week? Are there employment laws protecting the workers? Can people better themselves through working hard etc?

What does your fictional world need in terms of employment and are those needs met? Does it need to import labour and/or services and, if so, where does it get these things from?

What does your lead character do for a living? How does that affect their outlook? And when they’re called up on to go on the adventure you’re sending them on, how easy do they find it to give up all they have known? After all, secure employment is a rarity wherever you go!

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Time Generation and Must Have Books

Image Credit:-
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. Creativity Matters: Find Your Passion for Writing images kindly supplied by Wendy H Jones. Many thanks to Fiona Park for the image of me signing books at the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School. Other book photos taken by me.
Hope you have had a good weekend. Nice to have a quiet one after my London trip the week before. The dog wasn’t sorry to have me at home either! Image below taken by Adrian Symes.

LADY DISCUSSES TTFF WITH ME

Facebook – General

Glad to be able to share the Amazon link for the October issue of Mom’s Favorite Reads. Please note it IS a FREE magazine. Plenty of interesting articles to read. My column on flash fiction this time focuses on Light and Dark in Flash Fiction.


It’s my turn on the Authors Electric blog and this time I look at Drawing People into Reading. This post came about as a result of something I experienced at a Book Fair many moons ago. Why is reading considered as boring in some quarters when good books take you into fantasy worlds, science fiction, backwards and forwards in time? What can be done to correct that impression? Any thoughts welcome over on the AE page.

 

Have tried to make the most of nice autumnal weather this weekend given the rain is back next week. Lady had a wonderful surprise when she got to play with her Rhodesian Ridgeback best buddy today and then Lady’s “boyfriend”, a lovely Aussie Shepherd called Bear, also arrived. Three tired but happy dogs went home, feeling the day was well spent. It is quite a sight to see Lady play fighting with her Ridgeback pal. You stand back, stay out of the way, and enjoy the show! And who can herd the best – a Border Collie cross or an Aussie Shepherd? Hard to pick a winner but both of them ran beautifully, tails going nineteen to the dozen.

Am busy getting my author newsletter ready for November. Always a joy to put that together. Please head over to my website landing page at https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com if you would like to sign up. As well as news, I share exclusive stories, prompt, and tips here. (I try to make my newsletter something I know I would want to read if I was on the receiving end and I take the same approach with my stories and blogging. It’s a good starting point because I am trying to see things as a reader would and am tailoring my work to what I think a reader would want. It also helps cut out any temptation to put in things that are not strictly needed).

A tip that I’ve found useful many a time when perhaps the week has been especially tiring is a simple one. Just write what you can when you can and don’t beat yourself up. It is important to enjoy what you do and I would rather have a ten minutes writing session that I loved every second of than to have three times that long and I struggle. And for short periods of writing time I take the chance to jot down ideas for future use or might to do some light editing, things I know I can do in the time and which will help me feel as if I have achieved something. That is important too.

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Lady had a Saturday bonus today in that she got to play with her Labradoodle pal, Coco, today. Both dogs went home tired out and happy. I managed to cut our lawn today. I suspect it will be the final cut of the year too.

Writing wise, I look forward to sharing my next CFT post where I’ll be discussing Good Writing Topics. I am also back on Authors Electric on 18th and my theme for that will be Drawing People Into Reading.

And don’t forget if you contribute to Mom’s Favorite Reads, the online magazine, my topic this month is Memories. What 300 word stories can you share on that theme? This edition will be the November 2021 issue. I’ll share the link as soon as I can after publication so you can have a good read (!) but I know some who follow my website are fellow contributors to the magazine.

I like to pick open themes (the reason for which is something I’ll discuss more on Friday for my CFT post) but an early lesson in writing taught me to go that way as I did make the classic writing mistake of boxing myself in on a story. Never again I hope!

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Amazon currently have an offer on From Light to Dark and Back Again. See link.

Looking forward to sharing stories from that and Tripping the Flash Fantastic at the Brechin/Angus Book Fest during my flash fiction workshop. One of the best ways of demonstrating what flash fiction is and can be is to read some!

 

It’s a dark, damp, dire Monday in Hampshire so definitely time for story time I think. Hope you enjoy Scrabbled. What message would you spell out on the game board?


I’ve scheduled a new mini-flash tale for tomorrow on my YouTube channel and look forward to sharing the link then. See above!

I’ve also prepared a new story which I hope to submit to #FridayFlashFiction. And I used something different for this one.
I found a time generator! You can choose random times within parameters (which you can change). I chose five times within set hours (9 am and 5 pm). I will definitely do this again. The tale was great fun to write and it made me think about what my character would actively be doing as as well as when. Having specific times in a story meant I had to make my character focus and it gave a nice rhythm to the story too. Assuming FFF take the story, I’ll share the link when I have it.

Now if only I could have a “real life” time generator to help me get all the boring chores done so I had more time for writing and editing etc! Will let you know if my story makes it on to Friday Flash Fiction’s website this week.

Meanwhile you can check out my other videos at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCPCiePD4p_vWp4bz2d80SJA

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I don’t write to the seasons as such though I do like some Christmassy flash fiction stories and have some in both From Light to Dark and Back Again and Tripping the Flash Fantastic. But there is no reason why you couldn’t take the seasons as a theme for a series of flash tales.

Likewise, the weather could be a “mood” for your story. Stormy has an obvious link to stormy characters and situations but how could you make “sunny” interesting enough for a reader to want to read on? I think my take on this would be to have a sunny character whose world is turned upside down. Do they find their sunny nature again or is that gone forever? Now there’s the story.

Goodreads Author Blog – Top Ten Must Have Books

Okay, no list is going to be perfect. I suspect some titles will drop out off any list in one year and come back on it again the next year etc but here is my list of Top Ten Must Have Books.

The Lord of the Rings
Pride and Prejudice
Murder on the Orient Express
Raising Steam (Terry Pratchett)
The Code of the Woosters
The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe
The Daughter of Time (Josephine Tey)
P.G. Wodehouse: A Life in Letters. (Fabulous book and I love reading books of letters).
The History of Britain (Three volume set based on the TV series presented by Simon Schama some time ago but oh so worth reading).
A Christmas Carol

Which books would be on your list?

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