Workshops and The Joy of Reading

Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated with many created in Book Brush. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes.
Hope you had a great weekend. Lovely start to the week – the flash fiction workshop I ran went well. Hope it has inspired a few people! And we finally have some spring sunshine here.

Always a joy to talk or write about flash fiction

Facebook – General

The final edition of Mom’s Favorite Reads is now out – this is the June edition. I talk about Summer Fun for my flash fiction column which you will find on Page 54. See what you make of my character and how she defines what summer fun is for her in my story here. Also check out the other excellent flash pieces. Don’t forget the magazine is free to download and it is a splendid read. Look out for further magazine news later.

Hope you have had a good day. More sunshine – hooray! Lady got to play with her Rhodesian Ridgeback buddy again and our mutual friend, the lovely Hungarian Vizler we know, came out too. The dogs had a fab time. Not a bad start to the working week for me either. Have had some nice news in which I hope to share later. Also looking forward to running a flash fiction workshop tonight.

I am a great believer in prep work, whether it is for a workshop, or an outline for a story or blog. I’ve found it always pays. Can help calm nerves too. And the nice thing with prep work is you get to decide how much of it you need to do.

I don’t plan out every single thing, just enough to get me started. For a workshop I do a broad outline. Often ideas will come to me as I’m drafting and I can add those ideas in if I think they will suit. Sometimes an idea occurs and I realise that could form the basis of another workshop and that’s great. It is a strange thing that ideas occur when you’re writing something else. I know now to jot these things down immediately and look at them again in the cold light of day later.

May be a graphic of text that says "workshop Writing workshops are great fun and Sơ much can be learned from them. Preparation is key- and not just for the speaker!"

Lovely sunny day here today and Lady got to play with her best buddy, the lovely Rhodesian Ridgeback, in a play date neither expected! Both dogs went home tired and happy. Job done there then. Hope the good weather lasts. Have had so much rain I’m worried about getting rust!

Will be talking about The Joys and Pitfalls of Writing Research for Chandler’s Ford Today next week. Research comes into all sorts of writing, including fiction. Link up on Friday.

Looking forward to running a flash fiction workshop tomorrow. Always great fun to do. Once lovely thing about writing flash is the skills I’ve learned doing this apply to and have benefits for my other forms of writing as well.

May be an image of text that says "A great workshop is when it is truly interactive. Sharing what γσμ'ν written can encourage discussions and people to join in more. find get a lot from that."

Many thanks to #JenniferCWilson for sharing my Chandler’s Ford Today post about History in Stories. Her Kindred Spirits series mixes history with ghost stories. Do check the books out.

Many thanks also for the wonderful comments continuing to come in on my The Down Side, my latest tale on Friday Flash Fiction. In case you missed it, you can check it out here.

Glad to say I did the final checks on my competition entry story and have now submitted that. I’ve stuck to my usual deadline of about two weeks away from the official deadline given. I have found that pays off so often. There is always something last minute to correct even though I had already gone through it with a fine tooth comb long before this point.

Screenshot 2023-05-12 at 09-59-03 The Down Side by Allison Symes

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Many thanks for for the views coming in on The Last Letter, my latest YouTube video. I think Aunt Agnes clicked with people. I know she did with me.

Had a lovely time with the Medway Mermaids writing group last night with the flash fiction workshop I ran. It was great to see everyone, to share something of the joys of writing flash, and how it helps with other forms of writing too. For one thing, it has cured me of any fear of editing whatsoever!

Screenshot 2023-05-16 at 20-28-43 Allison Symes - YouTube

It’s Monday. It’s NOT a Bank Holiday in the UK (though don’t panic another one is coming up soon!). It is still time for a story and if you’ve ever had round robin letters, you will probably sympathise with my Aunt Agnes character in this one. Hope you enjoy The Last Letter.


I’m running a flash fiction workshop tomorrow online. One thing I do with these is share a couple of pieces and then break down how I wrote them. Why? Simply because when I’ve read interviews with authors doing this, I’ve learned so much from their breakdowns. I have literally seen the point of why they have done something a certain way.

Sometimes the technique here is something I can use or adapt for my work. Sometimes it isn’t but I still see why something was done in the way it was and I can work out whether it suits me or not. Also bear in mind something might come to suit your style of work later.

May be a graphic of 1 person and text that says "Creative writing encourages analytical skills. for one thing, you need to know what makes a story/character cha work and why. You need to understand story structure tσσ. ml ."

Hope you have had a good day. Nice to see some sun out today. Got to have lunch out in the garden with my better half and the dog. It’s only the second time we’ve been able to do this so far this year. Hope we get to do so more often!

Looking forward to running a flash fiction workshop on Monday. Always great fun to do. This one will be on Zoom but I love doing these online and in person. The latter just has to be “do-able” in terms of distance. I’m taking part in a book fair in July and hope to share some of what flash is and can be by getting to read a couple of pieces. It can and has helped my sales!

I need to get back to using some of the random generators I use less often. This is partly to keep my hand in but also it is a good idea to mix up the types of generator and other ideas triggers you use anyway.

May be an image of text that says "I love the fact there are so many different types of random generator I can use to help trigger ideas."
Goodreads Author Blog – The Joy of Reading

As a writer, I’m well aware of the advice that to write well, you need to read well. This is true. We are all inspired by our own love of reading as well as by ideas that come to us as we read something else. (I’ve known that happen when I’m reading non-fiction). But the joy of reading goes beyond that. The reason I write is I love stories. How do I know I do? Because I read loads of them!

I love reading in my genre (flash fiction/short stories) and outside of that. I like reading contemporary as well as classic fiction and non-fiction. Reading takes you outside of this world for a while. I can forget my problems, pressures etc for a while. I find joy in knowing I’m supporting the industry I am part of (even though it is in a small way). I want to be entertained by someone else’s words while hoping mine may entertain someone else in turn.

As life is so short, I won’t waste time on a story or book that doesn’t grip me fairly quickly but I will read across genres and love doing so. As a writer, I can also learn, subconsciously by reading, how stories are set out, what the balance of dialogue to narrative usually is and so on. But even without the help for my own writing, I would read anyway.

I just love stories. It is that simple.

Screenshot 2023-05-13 at 20-50-22 The Joy of Reading


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How To Guides

Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated with many created in Book Brush. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes.
Hope you have had a good week. I had a fabulous trip out to my local theatre company’s latest production and ran a flash fiction workshop. Weather still all over the place but Lady has got to play with some of her best pals. So a good week then!


Facebook – General and Chandler’s Ford Today

Wow, it’s Friday again already, and time to share my Chandler’s Ford Today post. This week I’m looking at How To Guides and I share some of the writing ones I have used (and in many cases continue to refer to). I look at how the need for specific guides changes as your writing progresses and share some thoughts on what makes a good guide for me. Do share details of any guides you’ve found helpful in the CFT comments box.

How To Guides

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I was talking about how to make the best of themes as part of my topic for the Association of Christian Writers’ Flash Fiction group last night. It pays to practice writing to themes – why? Because the classic themes come up time and again. Anything that doesn’t fit into a themed competition can always be saved for an open one.

May be a graphic of text that says "goe Ludwig Mie more es is Less Less Mies an Rohe Less is more could be THE anthem for all flash fiction writers."

Lady had a fabulous time playing with her best buddie, the lovely Rhodesian Ridgeback, today. Both dogs had a fabulous time. You should hear them run – it really is a thundering gallop!

Looking forward to the Association of Christian Writers Flash Fiction Group on Zoom this evening. It is great fun thinking of topics to discuss and then working out what exercises we can do related to these. We all get some drafts done and it has been lovely when people have gone on to have work published online and broadcast later. More power to the (flash) pens/laptops!

Also looking forward to my theatre trip tomorrow and to sharing my post on How To Guides on Chandler’s Ford Today on Friday. See above.

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Glad to say the May edition of Mom’s Favorite Reads is already out and what a cracking read it is. The theme this time was sailing and you can see how I used that for my flash fiction column on Page 56. Do check out the excellent stories which came in as a result of my challenge as well. Given it is a Bank Holiday weekend in the UK, that gives you plenty of time for a great read and several cups of tea/coffee while you do so – now that is what I call a good use of weekend time.

Flash fiction competitions come in many forms but the common ones are the 100 worders, the 300, and the 500 kinds so it is worth practicing writing to those different word counts. You can know these will come up regularly. For my collections, I wanted to have a good mix of all the different (and standard) word counts here including the 750 and the 1000 worders. I felt (and still feel) having a god representation of the different word counts in flash made a good advert for the form overall. I think it also shows the form has more flexibility than might be thought – it is only the upper word count you have to watch.

Always a joy to talk or write about flash fiction

I use random generators a lot as you know and I sometimes use the same thing generated for two stories. I invent different characters for the tales and will often ensure one is a humorous piece and the other isn’t. You really wouldn’t know they were based on the same underlying idea unless I told you! I just send these to two different markets or save one for my YouTube channel.

But I equally use two generators for two different ideas entirely. Then I can keep the mood the same if I wish to do so. I sometimes expand the number of parameters I set when using the generators (or in the case of story cubes I roll more than one of them!). There is plenty you can do with these things and they are a great source to find ideas, something just to get the creative sparks off to a good start.

May be an image of text that says "I love the fact there are so many different types of random generator I can use to help trigger ideas."

Fairytales with Bite – Endings

E = Expect the unexpected as not every fairytale has the classic happy ever after ending.
N = Never underestimate the “drab” character – they will almost certainly have an important role to bring the story to a good ending.
D = Do or dare – this will occur just ahead of the ending – something has to happen to bring that ending about.
I = Imagination – your characters may well imagine the ending they’d like but will they get that or something much better?
N = Narrators can guide the readers in some fairytales and you can find out what they make of the ending (have written some of these myself).
G = Good usually triumphs over evil as an ending here but I welcome that – would like to see it happen in real life more often to be honest (and maybe it is one of the comforts of the fairytale as a whole).
S = Stories need a satisfactory ending – it has to work for the characters and the set up of the story – but it doesn’t need to be a happy one (though I admit I prefer them!).

This World and Others – Changes

C= Characters and changes and causes and consequences – the bedrocks of any story in whatever setting.
H= How your characters handle changes will reveal much about them but also drive the story -not everyone reacts well.
A= Attitudes will determine how a character reacts to change – those who love routine will find changes harder to cope with.
N= Negative attitudes to change can lead to negative actions – what would that lead to in your story?
G= Great characters will find ways of dealing with changes and the consequences which come from them.
E= Every setting, every fantasy world, must develop and change whether it is in terms of technology, how they treat others, etc. What triggers the changes? Are the settings better because of the changes and if so how?
S= Stubbornness – there will always be those characters who resist change for various reasons (one of which is fear of change itself). How would they impact on your story?



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Building A Book Workshop – Author Interview: Gill James

Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated with many created in Book Brush. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes, as was the photo of Gill James at a Bridge House Publishing event.
For those who celebrate/commemorate, may I wish you a Happy Easter. It is lovely to have the sunny weather to go with it! A busy week again this week. I hope you enjoy a fabulous interview with Gill James on Chandler’s Ford Today this week. Really great idea here. Check it out below.

BookBrushImage-2023-4-7-20-1515Facebook – General and Chandler’s Ford Today

Am thrilled to welcome back Gill James to Chandler’s Ford Today to discuss her Build a Book Workshop. Doesn’t that sound intriguing? Find out all about it here.

Author Interview: Gill James – Build A Book Workshop

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Another good day for Lady – she got to play with her pal Coco today.

Will be sharing a wonderful interview with Gill James on Chandler’s Ford Today soon. We’ll be discussing Build a Book Workshop which is a fabulous idea. More tomorrow. See above.

Don’t forget the April issue of Mom’s Favorite Reads is out. Do check it out – it’s a great read and free!


Lady had a ball with her best mate, the lovely Rhodesian Ridgeback, today. Good time had by both.

Looking forward to sharing a fabulous interview with Gill James about Build a Book Workshop for Chandler’s Ford Today. Interesting premise. Great answers to questions, what’s not to like? Link up on Friday. Again see above and yes I am really excited about this interview. The premise here is a superb one. Do check out the interview.

Talking of questions, don’t forget you can use these to quiz your potential characters, I often do and will also use the random question generators to help me come up with “left field” questions, which can be a great way of truly finding out what your character is made of! They also stop you using the same old questions over and over again.

I will often use questions to give me ideas for themes for stories and again often they make for good titles too. I find they help me dig that big deeper and that in turn benefits my story and characterisation.

May be a cartoon of text that says "Questions make for good themes τσσ. What questions DO bother your characters and why?"

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Pleased to be on Friday Flash Fiction this week with my story Which Way? Hope you enjoy it. This story was prompted by the throw of a story dice and, aptly, a picture of a dice came up!

Screenshot 2023-04-07 at 09-12-58 Which Way by Allison SymesIf you do get Writing Magazine the last issue had their competition guide in it. Bear in mind a lot of the short story competitions either have categories for flash as well or their word count requirements fall within flash territory. Well worth checking out.

Don’t forget to check out the Ts and Cs of the competitions too (and that should be easily done by going to the competition’s website where you should be able to see these). You can sign up to Writing Magazine on line – their website says you could get access to their archive here, which would include the last edition with the guide, I would have thought!
Screenshot 2023-04-07 at 20-29-10 Writers Online Membership - Writers OnlineEntering competitions is also good practice for writing to deadlines

I was talking about using questions to help me with my fiction writing over on my author page earlier. Of course, because I am coming up with stories and characters all the time for my flash fiction and short stories, I need to ensure I have a constant supply of idea generators.

This is where the random generators are a blessing. It is also why I mix up the type I use frequently. Doing all of that makes me think outside the box more. That in turn helps fuel creativity and I am always all for that! (Story cubes, the old game of bits of paper in a hat with different words, adjectives on etc and then you pick out pieces at random – these all work too).

Also don’t forget the prompts books (and I will admit to bias here given I’ve contributed to some). Talking of which, I am also in The Big Book of Prompts, and many of the writers who regularly contribute to CafeLit, Bridge House Publishing etc are in there too. Why not see what we’ve come up with for ideas and see what you can make of them? Have fun!


Fairytales with Bite – Light and Dark

I’m writing this after what seems to have been the dullest, wettest March on record. Even the recent clock change where the clocks went forward did not appear to make much of a difference. And then the sunshine turned up and now we can believe spring has got here after all! Light makes all the difference.

In your setting, what kind of light would be considered natural? Are your characters affected by light levels the way we can be? What would they have in the way of artificial light for the winter season? Does your setting have a long dark period or a long light one? How would that make your characters behave?#

If you live in a setting where there isn’t a lot of natural light for most of the time, behaviour will be different compared to those who have nigh on perpetual natural light. (Those living in the latter can more obviously get out and about that much more easily. Sleep patterns will differ here too. How would that affect your characters?).

Is dark feared or welcomed? How do your characters manage to do the everyday tasks of life when dark is a way of life for them? Is crime more prevalent in a “dark” world?

You can also explore the issues of light and dark for each of your characters too. What would be their light attributes, which their dark etc? That alone could give you a good character outline ahead of writing your story up.


This World and Others – Nature

Light and dark are natural phenomenons of course but in your setting what is the natural world like? Is it comparable with ours? How do your creatures (human like or otherwise) cope with light and dark? What are their natural tendencies? Is there prey and predator, for example, and who would be considered to be the “top of the tree” here?

Have your main creations changed the natural world and, if so, how? Are there benefits to what they’ve done? What are the disadvantages and has your natural setting found a way of fighting back against what it hates? There are stories to be had in climate disasters and their aftermath, for example, but a more positive outcome here would be a tale where your characters learn from their mistakes, put them right, and the natural world responds to that. Redemption stories are always welcome! (If only to cheer us up as readers because there is so much gloom out there. We see natural disasters all the time, yes?).

How broad is your natural world? Is there a range of geographical settings? That directly affects what can live in your setting naturally so what kind of varieties of plant/insect/animal life, do you have here? How do these affect how the others can live?
It pays to take time to work this kind of thing out. Setting can so often act like a character in its own right. Think of The Shire, Mordor, Gondor etc in The Lord of the Rings. Each distinct. Each memorable. Each with their own “natures”.





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Not Impressed

Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated with many created in Book Brush. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes.
Apologies for a shortened post this time. Sadly I was ill over the weekend/early part of this week but am glad to report am now feeling much better. I did miss being able to write though. It is true – writing can be addictive! Mind you, it has been the thing to cheer me up as I’ve got back to it again.


Facebook – General

A huge thank you for the best wishes expressed yesterday. Am so glad to be well on the mend (though must ‘fess up to sporting a rather unfetching tired and washed out look right now! Better than being ill by lightyears though).

So glad to be back writing again. I do have to be ill not to be able to do any at all! I did manage to submit a story to Friday Flash Fiction yesterday and I will be sharing over on my book page shortly my video for the week. To only be a day out is not bad given the circumstances.

And it is always nice to have something to look forward to doing, creatively, at the end of my day. I suspect it was that aspect I missed the most.

I’ll be talking about Purposes of Creative Writing for Chandler’s Ford Today this week. Look forward to sharing that on Friday.

Chandler's Ford Today post reminder picture(1)
Apologies for the no-show yesterday, I had an awful weekend, being rather ill! (Lost 6 lbs over one night!). Am feeling better now but very tired and washed out. It will be a few early nights this week for me I think.

Writing tip: Never beat yourself up when you can’t write. I just couldn’t focus on anything over the weekend. These things happen. Look forward to having writing to come back to when you are more up to that again. I know this one works – have just done an unwanted test on this one!

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Hope you have had a good day. Many thanks for the comments coming in on Clearing Away, my latest on Friday Flash Fiction.
I’m going to be looking at the Purposes of Creative Writing for Chandler’s Ford Today next week. Am enjoying writing it and looking forward to sharing this on Friday.

When I prepare author interviews for CFT, I take some time in researching the background to the writer in question so I can put pertinent questions to them and find aspects of their work they will want to elaborate on. That makes for a great, entertaining interview. You can do pretty much the same for your character outline. What would your character want to tell you and why is an interesting angle to explore. What do you think your characters would want to keep hidden from you and why is another one.

Screenshot 2023-03-10 at 09-42-10 Clearing Away by Allison Symes

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Glad to now be able to share my story video of the week. It was lovely getting back to doing this, after having been ill, and to only be a day out is nice. My story title reflects how I felt about how I ended up spending my weekend – hope you enjoy Not Impressed!

Sorry, I wasn’t about yesterday. I spent a lot of the weekend being ill. Pity that wasn’t over in a flash!

Moving on, I’ve mentioned before that one joy of flash is being able to draft something when you haven’t got much time. It is also handy when you are not up to writing much. You still feel as if you have got something done and I’ve found that helpful in the past and now. It can be a useful morale boost when you’re not feeling up to much.

Allison Symes - Flash Fiction Collections

I shared in my CFT post yesterday that one thing I loved about editing for Mom’s Favorite Reads is in seeing how people respond to the challenge I set. They always rise to the occasion! I love responding to challenges (say competition themes) and seeing what I can do with them. I think being made to raise our game here is a great discipline.

It is always nice being able to surprise yourself with what you can come up with here and having the challenge to respond to is a fantastic way of stretching yourself. After all, responding to that CafeLit 100 word challenge made me discover the joys of flash fiction. You need something to respond to in the first place, I think.

May be an image of 1 person and text that says "A fiction writer's challenge is to keep coming up with characters who engage with us. A non-fiction writer's challenge is to keep coming up with topics which engage us. I do both!"

Goodreads Author Blog – Haunting Characters

I occasionally write a ghost flash fiction story. One of my favourite stories of all time involves three ghosts and a miser – I’ll leave you to guess what that one is! And I love a great series of books called Kindred Spirits by Jennifer C Wilson who combines ghost stories and history. (I should add Jennifer is a friend but I would happily read and recommend these books anyway given I love historical fiction and this is an interesting take on it).

But haunting characters shouldn’t just be confined to ghost stories. I want characters to haunt me and stay with me long after I’ve finished reading their story. Some of those that do this for me include Elizabeth Bennet, Mr Darcy, Sam Vimes, Death (from Discworld), Frodo Baggins and Sam Gamgee, Jeeves and Wooster, and many others besides. I do love an eclectic mix!

So how can a character haunt a reader then? Simply by being so convincingly portrayed any reader would want to root for them and absolutely have to find to what happens to them. They’ve got to make the reader feel as if they were almost there in the story with them, as it is only when that is achieved will a reader care enough about them.

Screenshot 2023-03-11 at 20-46-06 Haunting Characters




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Review: Pinocchio – The Chameleon Theatre Group – Pantomime and Potential

Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated with many created in Book Brush. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes.
A huge thank you to The Chameleon Theatre Group for kind permission to use their photos in my Chandler’s Ford Today post this week reviewing their performance of Pinocchio. Did I have a good time at the pantomime recently ? Oh yes I did! More below.


Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

Am delighted to share my review of Pinocchio, the latest production staged by the Chameleon Theatre Group. I also take a look at some of the traditions of pantomime and the theme of this one. I review the performance, nominate my costume of the show (a first for me when it comes to reviewing shows but it was an outstanding costume – see what you think), and discuss whether this role is the only one where an actor is expected to “act wooden”.

I also flag up The Chameleons’ next performance in April, which will be a series of three plays. As ever, a big thank you to them for providing the photos.

And if you’re not in my part of the world, do take the time to check out your local theatre groups. Expect to find gems. I’ve lived where I do for thirty years but have only known about The Chameleons over the last few years. And I would say taking in shows like this one is another way of taking in stories – you’re hearing them and watching them being acted out. It’s a hugely enjoyable experience too.

Do check out the post on Chandler’s Ford Today. I had a great deal of fun coming up with captions for the wonderful photos!

Review: The Chameleon Theatre Group – Pinocchio

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Hope you have had a good day. Weather significantly milder which has been lovely and Lady got to play with her best friends today so she had a lovely time.

Now a good definition of a lovely time for me is having written something I like which has potential. Another good definition is having edited something to get it to that potential. And then there’s putting down a good book, having had a wonderful read, and not really wanting to leave the characters behind. That is a sign of a truly great story. It also inspires me to always up my own game (and that’s a good thing. We should be trying to improve on what we do, writing wise).

I’ve talked before about making the most of whatever writing time you have. I always do this but right now I’m doing so more! Why?

I do a behind the scenes the job and it is particularly busy at the moment. So I relish my time when I get to write and feel both tired and refreshed after said writing session. How can I be both?

Well, creative writing should stretch you mentally and that is tiring but I also find it invigorating. I always feel better after having written something even if it is not as much as I would’ve liked to have achieved. What matters is getting something down. It is the getting to be creative at all which matters here I think.

May be an image of 1 person and text that says "On those days where run late all day, at least can carve out a few minutes to jot down ideas for future flash tales."

Looking forward to sharing my review of Pinocchio as performed by the Chameleon Theatre Group in my post on Chandler’s Ford Today on Friday. See above.

Great fun and I have a soft spot for pantomime given they are based on the classic fairytales.

Author newsletter out today (and welcome to those who have subscribed since my last one, also thanks to those who continue to subscribe – all appreciated I can assure you).

Now when I am blogging, whether it is for Chandler’s Ford Today, Authors Electric, or More than Writers in particular, how do I think of the theme given these are not set by anyone else?

Sometimes the time of year inspires the theme (this is especially true for More Than Writers where I will write something Easter/Christmas related etc at the apt times). I usually draw on the writing journey – my personal one and the journey in general.

One thing I love about creative writing is you never stop learning. This can be from your mistakes. It can be from tips you pick up on the way and I can usually find an aspect of these things to make a good theme to write about. But the important thing here is I am writing about something I absolutely love and this I find is continually sustaining. I also make sure there is something of value to the reader and, as with my fiction, I keep my Ideal Reader in mind, always. It helps with focus too.


Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Pleased to be back on Friday Flash Fiction with one of those tales I think a lot of people will identify with – forgetting to buy something while out shopping. Hope you enjoy my latest tale, The Milk.

Screenshot 2023-02-03 at 09-43-43 The Milk by Allison Symes

Don’t forget the February issue of Mom’s Favorite Reads is out. I talk about the Year of the Rabbit in my flash fiction column this time. How can I get a flash story out of that? Did others respond to my challenge? Yes I did. So did they. Check the magazine to find out more. Also check out the Meet the Team feature which starts on Page 28.



Don’t forget author reviews are a great way of supporting a writer. They don’t have to be long. Okay, I know I would be found to say that as flash fiction writer, but it is true. Reviews can be a line or two. As well as being encouraging to the writer, a thoughtful review can be a great guide for other readers.

Do I review books myself? Oh yes. Not every single thing I read, I admit, but I make sure I do review reasonably regularly. Being a writer makes me more aware of the need to do it, I suppose, but reviews are never a waste of time. And they are appreciated.

Likewise, useful comments on a blog you’ve liked are also appreciated. It’s another kind of review! Also another way of supporting other writers.

May be an image of text that says "Reviews don't have to be long but they can help a writer's presence on Amazon etc."

Fairytales with Bite – Favourites and Dislikes

What do you think are the favourite ingredients of a classic fairytale? What are the dislikes?

My favourite ingredients are:-

  • Sympathetic lead character I can root for – usually down on their luck or ill-treated or overlooked in some way but capable of greatness.
  • A villain I really want to see get their comeuppance.
  • Magic coming to the aid of the sympathetic lead character but they also have to put the work in and prove themselves worthy of that assistance.
  • And I have a very soft spot for a smart animal character who is often wiser than the humans around them.

As for my dislikes:-

  • Cruelty though I know it is unavoidable – you do need the conflict and resolution.. Much as I hate to say it, there usually does have to be some sort of cruelty done to the lead character. There has to be something they have to be delivered from in some way. One thing I’ve always loved about the fairytales is I know the cruelty will stop and there ill be a good ending. Of if only we could say the same about life!
  • The animal characters not being appreciated for their wit and wisdom. Too easily looked down on.
  • A villain who is NOT a worthy opponent for the lead character (what I don’t want is a character who is just a cruel clown).
  • Magic being used as a “cop-out” – there has to be a point to it being used and where there is o viable alternative. For me, it then works.

This World and Others – The Law

How does the law work in your fictional setting? Is there a criminal/civil law distinction as we have? Or is there just one law, such as martial law? How did the laws come about and have any been modified over the years? Who works in the law in your stories? Is this considered to be a good occupation or not by the ordinary people/beings ruled over?

How severe are punishments? Are your characters rewarded for obeying the law of are they ruled via fear? Who brings about changes to the law and how long did it take them?

The above questions I hope would all start triggering potential story ideas. But even if this isn’t your story directly, thinking about these things will give you a clearer idea as to your setting, how it works as a society. and how your characters are likely to interact with it. Your view of the law will depend on which side of it you are on after all!


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Screenshot 2023-01-31 at 20-50-46 Mom's Favorite Reads eMagazine February 2023

Deadly Traditions with Wendy H Jones

Image Credits-:
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots and post box photos were taken by me. Allison Symes, as were photos of Evergreen – An Anthology. Well, what writer doesn’t want to take picture of their books when they arrive?!
A huge thanks to Wendy H Jones for supplying author and book pictures for my interview with her on Chandler’s Ford Today.
Temperatures have dropped significantly in my part of the world – brrr…. Still it’s time to get out the hot chocolate once again (and I love the mint and orange flavours from Options). Meantime, someone has been busy with our local post box…

Facebook – General

It’s with great pleasure I welcome back Wendy H Jones to Chandler’s Ford Today. We discuss Deadly Traditions, a cozy crime at Christmas anthology, in which Wendy has a short story. Given Wendy is well known for her full length work (fiction and non-fiction) one of my question was about how she found writing in the shorter form. It is a different “beast” after all.

I also asked how she found combining a crime story (normally serious) with a lighter touch expected from a Christmas story (true most of the time. I know there are exceptions). Check out the post to see what she said and do pick up her excellent tips for contributing to anthologies.

Deadly Traditions – Interview with Wendy H Jones

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Brrr…glad to see Lady running around earlier with her gentleman friend, Bear, a lovely tri-coloured Aussie Shepherd. At least both of them have good coats. They’ll appreciate them right now. (As I prepare this in the evening, it’s already -2 out there. I know – that’s nothing compared to many places but it is on the early side for my part of the world. We usually get this kind of temperature towards the end of the month/early January onwards). As I prepare this round up on Friday evening, it is still saying -2 out there!

Looking forward to sharing my Chandler’s Ford Today post tomorrow where I’ll be talking to Wendy H Jones about Deadly Traditions, a cozy crime at Christmas anthology. See above.

One thing I do regularly (and where Flash NANO has helped a lot too) is to build up a stock of flash pieces and short stories on themes which are open to interpretation. It is then a question of finding the right market/competition come up for these but there will be something. I often draft potential blog pieces too which I can then place as needed throughout the year. Again when I have odd pockets of time, I can draft something here which I know I’ll get to use later. Helps my productivity no end!

May be an image of text that says "Never Neverworry worry about how much time you have to write. Five minutes of writing builds up over time and is perfect for drafting short pieces. V"

Chandler's Ford Today post reminder picture(1)

Glad to say my copies of Evergreen – An Anthology arrived today. Always nice to open a parcel with your books (or books you’ve contributed to) inside!

Talking of anthologies, I’m pleased to be welcoming back to Chandler’s Ford Today Scottish crime writer, Wendy H Jones, who will be talking about Deadly Traditions, where she has a short story. Link up on Friday. See above.

Once nice thing I will have to do in next few days is ensure I notify the Authors Licensing and Collecting Society about my contribution to Evergreen – an Anthology. I also need to get things set up on my Amazon Author Central page, Goodreads, my book page on my website etc. Those will be pleasant tasks though – it is always nice to update with another publication credit. You can’t know these things are coming (you can only put in your best effort and hope) but it is always a joy when they do.


Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Delighted my story Numbers is up on Friday Flash Fiction. I used the random number generator and came up with the number 14. See what I did with it via the link!

Screenshot 2022-12-09 at 16-48-49 Numbers by Allison Symes

If you’ve not yet had chance to do so, why not check out the recently released special fiftieth edition of Mom’s Favorite Reads? Link here. I talk about Fifty as my theme for the December 2022 double issue. I also set a double challenge here and people responded excellently to both.

Hope you have had a good day. Temperatures are set to plummet even further here. One lovely thing about writing is it generally is something you can do in the warm!

When I read at events, I like to mix up the moods of what I read. It makes for a great advert for what flash fiction is and can be. I also mix up my use of first and third person stories. I occasionally use second person but find this works best as a short (even by flash standards) tale and not often. It can come across as a bit gimmicky but the odd use of a “you” story can be effective. So much depends on your character’s (the narrator’s) voice here being strong enough to carry a story like that.

I also practice what I’m reading by going over it a few times. I’ve mentioned using Zoom here and I always do for new material which I’ve not read before. Only way to be sure of my timings and to ensure the story flows. What looks good written down doesn’t always read out well and if I stumble over my words, a reader will too. But that’s what the edit is for – to iron all that out. I enjoy that kind of ironing at least!

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Allison Symes - Flash Fiction Collections

Fairytales With Bite – Tips for Surviving in a Magical World

You know how it is – you go through some portal or down a rabbit hole and before you realise it, you are in a magical world. Now what? The following tips will be useful.

  • Don’t eat or drink anything until you are 100% certain it is real food and drink and doesn’t have unfortunate side effects. It is not practical or helpful to suddenly discover you’ve grown several feet (in height or in literal feet – think of the shoe bills!).
  • Don’t annoy any little old men or women. They’re nearly always powerful magical beings in disguise. You don’t want to get the wrong side of them.
  • Be humble and not arrogant. It will help you with 2 above.
  • Expect talking animals. Try not to be annoyed when they prove to be better conversationalists than you are.
  • Take nothing at face value. If you come across a rather hairy old woman in a night gown, it might be worth checking out if they really are human or not.
  • Get out of said magical world as soon as you can. Nobody will blame you for running away.


This World and Others – Getting By

Now there are a variety of ways we all get by so this should be reflected in your fictional world. What kind of jobs do people do? If they’re not earning money to pay bills, how do they manage? Is there a barter system and skills are traded?

What kind of employment does your fiction world offer its characters? Are certain occupations reserved for certain species/classes and how did that come about? Are there skills your world has to import and where would they get these from? What can they offer in exchange?

Another thing to think about is what happens to those characters left behind by the leads going off on quests etc? How do they manage?

One interesting thing about The Lord of the Rings which the book shows well is when Frodo and the hobbits return to The Shire. It is quickly made apparent that all have been changed by what has happened. The Shire and its inhabitants are not the same as when Frodo and company left them (albeit in something of a hurry!).

Could you show something of this kind of thing in your story, especially if you want y our hero(es) to return home? Getting by includes making adjustments to resume normal life again too.


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Allison Symes – Book Brush Reader Hub

Screenshot 2022-12-09 at 20-52-17 Reader Hub Book Brush

Festive Flash News and Author and Book Events

Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots were taken by me, Allison Symes, as was the photo of my two flash collections at the BHP event. Many thanks to Lynn Clement for taking the photo of me reading at the Bridge House Publishing Celebration event. Always tricky doing that kind of thing yourself! 
Weather becoming significantly colder in my part of the world. Lady’s not bothered but is probably wondering why Mum is keen to keep moving rather than let her stop and sniff everything every five seconds or so!

Facebook – General

Glad to report one of my festive flash fiction pieces will be broadcast on Hannah Kate’s Three Minute Santas show on North Manchester FM on 17th December. Looking forward to sharing the link to the show later. Glad to hear other friends will also be having their stories on here – well done, all!

Now I will record myself on Zoom every so often to check if a story flows as well as I thought and for things like Hannah’s show, I want to make sure I’ve got my timings rights. (Maximum allowed is three minutes). The lovely thing with Zoom is if you set up a meeting with yourself, record yourself speaking, and then end that meeting, Zoom will convert the file to an mp4 for you. You also get an exact timing.

And in playing back your recording, you can literally hear the ebbs and flows of your story. Worth doing and it is also great practice to read aloud for Open Prose Mic Nights as well.

Last but not least, a big thank you for the anniversary congratulations yesterday. Much appreciated! (See below).

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5th December
Hope you have had a good day. Today is my 35th wedding anniversary. Better half and I can’t believe where the time has gone either.

Writing wise, I’m pleased to share the link to the super duper double issue of Mom’s Favorite Reads. Why such a large edition? Simply it is because this is the 50th edition and naturally that had to be celebrated with something special.

I use the theme of Fifty for my article in this issue and I set not one but two flash fiction challenges. One was to write on the subject of fifty up to a word count of 300 words. The second challenge was to write a fifty word story all in, including the title. Do check out the stories that came in – it was, as ever, a joy to be the editor on these.


Brrr…it’s cold out there. Nice to have a quieter day today after my trip yesterday. I hope my next trip will be in January when I’ll be giving a flash fiction workshop. (It will be in person ideally but may need to switch to Zoom. Am happy with both kinds of workshop).

Am looking forward to welcoming back Wendy H Jones to Chandler’s Ford Today on Friday. She’ll be discussing Deadly Traditions, a cozy mystery at Christmas anthology, with me. I’ll be chatting about how she found writing shorter fiction given she is best known for her own crime series and marketing books in particular. Long and short fiction writing have their own challenges and joys.

Have not yet started work on my editing for my Flash NANO stories. I suspect I’ll get to this after Christmas. I won’t be that sorry about it as I do give myself time away from something recently written so I can come back and judge it objectively later.


Am writing this on way up to London for the annual Bridge House Publishing Celebration event. This is being held at the wonderfully named Theodore Bullfrog pub.

Am looking forward to seeing friends and listening to author readings. I’m taking part in that too but it is such a joy to relax and be read to – how often do you get to do that? Audio books are fab but listening to the author telling their tale live as they want it to come across is special and a treat.

Do support author reading events. They’re great fun and give you a chance to escape the world for a bit as well as being another way to support writers.

Update: Did indeed have a fabulous time at the BHP event. Loved the readings from the different authors and it was fun to take part myself. Hope to write more about this for a further Chandler’s Ford Today post. A big thanks to Lynn Clement for taking the picture of me on my phone as I read a story from each of my two flash collections.

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Delighted to say a festive piece of mine will be on Three Minute Santas on Hannah Kate’s show on North Manchester FM on 17th December. Always a fun show to listen to – and I plan to share the link later. Flash works so well in an audio format.

Flash is also great to share as a reading because you can’t go on for too long yet it makes for a great introduction to you and your writing style. Win-win there!

I am planning to use my Flash NANO stories for a mixture of competitions and for a future collection. Nice to be off to a cracking start there!

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It’s Monday. It’s cold. There is still far too much to do before Christmas but it is time to take a break and enjoy a new flash fiction video. You know it makes sense, to quote Del Boy from Only Fools and Horses. Hope you enjoy Fourteen Days, my latest on YouTube.


Loved my trip out yesterday and it is always good to wave the flag for flash fiction. I hope to do so again in January when I’m due to run a workshop.

I took the opportunity yesterday to show how flash can mix up the moods so read a humorous tale and a serious one. Both tales have good emotional impact which is what you want from a story. Even as a kid, I wanted to get to the “happy ever after” in the fairytales but I was also intrigued as to how that would happen.

That should’ve been an early flag to me that writing would be what I’d end up doing!

From Light to Dark and Back Again - by nightTripping The Flash Fantastic - by night

Looking forward to reading some flash tales at the Bridge House Publishing Celebration event in London today. Nice to be back on the train again too. Always good for people watching and I have had inspiration for stories from things seen/overheard.

These things are always a starting point only as by the time I’ve written and edited my tale, my “unintentional inspirers” would never recognize they had inspired a story.

One key skill for any writer is to be observant and from that to think yes, I could use that. For example, I spotted someone hastily writing out a couple of Christmas cards. So my mind is thinking along the lines of who are these cards for and why it is vital my character gets these written now.

It’s a situation most of us can identify with and has the potential to be a funny tale and/or a heartwarming one. But I needed to spot someone doing this to get my ideas sparking.

(Again thanks to Lynn Clement for taking the picture of me reading).


Goodreads Author Blog – Book Events

Book events are great fun and if you can get to go to any, please do.

As well as showing support for the authors (which is always appreciated), you may well get to hear readings. Also there will be the chance to get signed copies. These make for fab Christmas presents!

A lot of work goes on behind the scenes setting these up but book events are wonderful for bringing writers and readers together.

Any reader interacts with the author simply by reading their works of course but at events, you may be able to ask questions as you get your books signed.

That can give the writer useful feedback. I’ve had readers say something about my stories revealing hidden depths I hadn’t considered when writing the tale.

Was I pleased? Oh yes! Why? Because the readers had engaged with my stories and showed me they had.

We all love books for various reasons but engaging with stories like that is so special. And it is really nice for an author to find that out a book event.

Screenshot 2022-12-03 at 20-24-03 Book Events
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Book Brush – Reader Hub – Allison Symes


Screenshot 2022-12-06 at 21-14-32 Reader Hub Book Brush

Roses, Zebras, and Sherlock Holmes

Special Note:  Before you ask, I haven’t chosen the post’s title using a random generator, honestly! These are all things which have either occurred in my writing life so far this week or are going to before the next post comes out on Friday. Yes, an interesting week! Mind you, if there is a prize for unusual blog post titles, I think this one is in with a shout…

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. See above for the kind of week I’m having so far!


Facebook – General

I’m looking forward to chatting again with author Ruth Leigh whose The Continued Times of Isabella M Smugge came out on 22nd October. In this week’s Chandler’s Ford Today post, Ruth and I will be looking at marketing and the characters Ruth loves and loathes amongst other topics. Link up on Friday.

And talking of marketing, may I say a huge thanks for the views on my latest YouTube story, The Zebra Who Lost Its Stripes. It clearly struck a chord!

This story started life as a title idea which came from the Association of Christian Writers Flash Fiction Group meeting I ran last week. I’ve mentioned before about brainstorming titles for writing up into stories later. It means when you have longer at your desk you’ve got something to work on immediately. I do practice what I preach here!

Weather far better today than yesterday but it wasn’t a difficult bar to cross! Lady got to see her best mates today, the lovely Ridgeback and Vizler, so all three dogs well pleased with that.

The Ridgeback’s owner and I were given a bunch of roses on the regular walk back by someone who has these donated as part of a charity collection but this time they had far too many flowers to be able to use so were giving bunches away to people who were walking down their street! We met someone else coming the other way who was also carrying a lovely bunch of roses and who, like us, was smiling broadly at the thought of them!

There is a flash fiction tale in there somewhere, I swear! Talking of which, I chose two of the titles I came up with from last week’s ACW Flash Fiction Group session and written the stories up. I’ll be sharing one of these over on my book page shortly as it is my new YouTube tale. Good fun to do.

And I will be setting the challenge soon for the December issue of Mom’s Favorite Reads. Meanwhile, why not check out the latest fab issue? See link below.

That storm overnight/earlier this morning was quite something. Am so grateful Lady isn’t frightened of thunder and lightning. (She gets annoyed by the louder fireworks rather than becomes frightened of them – again am thankful for that). Week ahead is looking a bit grim – not just weather wise, unfortunately.

I must admit I find writing both a joy to do and therapeutic. There is just something about putting yourself in your character’s shoes and working out how they would act/react that takes me out of myself for a while – and especially with the news being so grim, I find that incredibly helpful.

Many thanks also for the comments coming in on Hope, my latest on Friday Flash Fiction. If you missed it, see the link.

Screenshot 2022-10-21 at 09-23-17 Hope by Allison Symes

Hope today has been okay. Got soaked in two minutes rushing to bring washing in earlier. Hello, autumn, my old friend!

It was fantastic chatting to Ruth Leigh on Chandler’s Ford Today yesterday. Part 2 of her interview will be up next week and we’ll be looking at marketing as part of that. Link up on Friday.

I’m off to The Chameleon Theatre Group next week as well to see their latest production – Sherlock Holmes and The Mystery at Mallen Hall. Sounds fun. Will review in due course. Am looking forward to meeting up with Janet Williams, my lovely CFT editor for this too. Seems like ages since the last “CFT works outing”!

Did I get any ideas from the ACW Flash Fiction Group meeting on Wednesday? Yes and not yet. I’ve got some ideas for titles I’d like to work up into stories and hope to do that soon. Am pressing on with my third book collection as I am nearly there with that and I do want to get that submitted this autumn. And, yes, these things always do take longer than you initially think!

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

I mentioned over on my main author page tonight I was delighted to see such a great response to my The Zebra Who Lost Its Stripes story. Am glad you enjoyed it. Brainstorming title ideas for writing up later pays off!

I usually put up a new video on my YouTube channel once a week, unless away or ill, and I got into doing this as I wanted another way to share flash stories.

The idea of doing something visual with them appealed and hence I went to YouTube. I use Book Brush to help me create the videos. All good fun and of course it forms part of my overall marketing as well. New subscribers are always welcome to my channel and you can find this at the link below.

Short videos are easier to share and of course flash is a great form to link into that.

Screenshot 2022-10-25 at 20-56-26 Allison Symes

My latest YouTube flash tale comes from a title I came up with for the Association of Christian Writers’ Flash Fiction Group meeting last week. Hope you enjoy The Zebra Who Lost Its Stripes. Given this has had an amazing reaction (see screenshot above, I was pleasantly stunned!), I make no apology for sharing it twice here! Am so glad it went down well. This is probably the nearest to a children’s story I get.


I was talking about titles with the Association of Christian Writers Flash Fiction Group on Wednesday. What you want is something that lures your reader in – to give them an intriguing premise they have to read the story to find out what happens. I will often brainstorm title ideas when I have small pockets of time and I want to write something.

The joy of this is it gives me something to look through and work up into stories later on when I have more time. I will also brainstorm titles for use for non-fiction topics for my blog on Chandler’s Ford Today, my spots on Authors Electric, More than Writers, and Mom’s Favorite Reads.

Titles are your first advert in many ways and I find I have to have one to get myself started on a piece, fiction or otherwise. It can change – and often does given when I’m drafting something other ideas for titles often pop up. I just make a note of these and compare them with my original thought and then go with the one I like best. Sometimes it does mean sticking with the original but at least I then know it is the best one to use for that piece.

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For my flash pieces, I’m looking for a strong central character to “carry” the plot. In some ways here writing can be a bit like acting. You need the right cast to make it work. This is why I need to know my character really well to make sure they’re up to the work!

I interview my characters. I look for traits and what can come from those (including the flip side to them, there always is a flip side). I also like to know something of their tastes (knowing what their sense of humour is can give good indications of their character type funnily enough. Do they like quirky humour? Are they a bit strait-laced etc?).

Often outlining a character throws up ideas for the stories they would work well in so this, for me, is another reason to outline.

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Goodreads Author Blog – The ABC of Books Part 1 – A to M

A = Annuals, often treasured for years. Which was your favourite?

B = Back catalogues – I often don’t pick the first book by an author to read so if I like the book I did read, I have a lot of fun catching up with the others!

C = Characters – where would any book be without them and again name your favourites. I have loads.

D = Dialogue in books mirrors real life speech but can’t ape it exactly as there’d be far too many ahs, ums, stutters etc – not easy and boring to read!

E = Entertainment and enrichment – what good books always do whether they’re fiction or non-fiction.

F = Flash fiction – my genre – fun and stretches across genres too as I’ve written crime flash, ghost flash etc.

G = Great writers of the past still inspire today though I am thankful I don’t need to be as descriptive as Dickens had to be for his readers who could not travel to see the places he wrote about (or have the benefit of film/TV to see them).

H = History – fiction and non- fiction – a wonderful category and can inspire all sorts of fictional works.

I = Intellect and Imagination – reading widely doses so much for both of these.

J = Justice – a major factor in the popularity of crime fiction as justice is usually seen to be done here.

K = Kindle – ebooks have transformed reading by giving us another format. It has also given more writers a voice too.

L = Life – in all its forms and several alien ones – can be found across the whole spectrum of book categories.

M = Mysteries – as well as the obvious crime section, there is the paranormal mystery book, the non-fiction books trying to lift the lid on mysteries and so on.

Part 2 next week but I do know books should be celebrated!

Screenshot 2022-10-22 at 21-05-13 The ABC of Books - Part 1 - A to M

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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. For my CFT post this week, one photo was also taken by me and another is a family heirloom shot. Hope you have had a good week. Not bad here. Busy week on the blogging front and I’ve two stories to share here. Hope you enjoy.


Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

It has been a busy week on the blogging front (and a huge thank you for the lovely comments coming in yesterday on my More than Writers piece – see below). Tonight though it is time for my weekly spot on Chandler’s Ford Today and this time I look at Favourites.

My piece last week on Looking Back was a reflective one following the Queen’s death but I thought it would be nice to have a kind of follow on post which was lighter in tone.

Favourites takes a cheery stroll down Memory Lane and I share some thoughts on favourite sweets, books, music etc. Do join in with your comments too. Hope you enjoy the post.


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29th September – More than Writers

It’s my turn on the More than Writers, the Association of Christian Writers blog spot. This time I talk about Season of Mist and Mellow Fruitfulness – definitely apt for the time of year! – and apply it to the writing life. Hope you enjoy it and find it encouraging.

Hope you have had a good Wednesday. Busy, busy, busy this week as getting ready for a family do at the weekend. Lady loves these and will be spoiled rotten. That may have some connection as to why she loves family events…

Was sorry to hear of the death of Brother Andrew of Open Doors fame (an organisation which helps persecuted Christians. It is a sad truism if you have one group of persecuted people, there will be others being persecuted too. It saddens me a lot that we are still having the debate on religious freedom in this day and age – it should be a “given” and yes that includes the right not to believe. It should be a conscience issue).

Moving on to writing matters, I’ve set my monthly challenge for Mom’s Favourite Reads for the November issue and the October edition will be out very soon. I’ll also be sending out my author newsletter on Saturday. Am finishing the final touches for that one. I tend to add bits and pieces throughout the month. It helps!

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

It’s Friday and that must mean it is time for another story on Friday Flash Fiction.

This one is called Going Home and was inspired by a picture prompt I used when setting exercises for the Association of Christian Writers Flash Fiction group last week. Hope you enjoy the tale and would you do what my character is here? Do check out the other fabulous stories on this site. It is a great read and lovely way to have a good “fix” of contemporary flash fiction.

Screenshot 2022-09-30 at 09-25-38 Coming Home by Allison Symes

Many thanks to the lovely people at Elgin Writers for making me so welcome at last night’s flash fiction workshop on Zoom. It was great to meet you and and glad you found the workshop useful.

Another aspect to flash fiction writing is many of the techniques used for it will help you with other forms of writing. For example, you learn to think laterally to make the most of your word count and to write “tightly”.

You can apply that across the board. No more wasted words. No more descriptions which add little of value to your story and the characters. Learning to write with your Ideal Reader in mind and thinking about the impact of your story from the first word. All good stuff here.

May be an image of text that says "WHAT'S YOUR The short form -standard or flash -is is excellent for improving writing skills."

Flash has done so much for me from being published to tightening up my writing (and I am sure that has led to the being published scenario!). It is fun, great for when you don’t have huge amounts of time to write (because it means you can write something).

It has done wonders for my appreciation of good characterisation too. It is my belief every writer can benefit from practicing flash writing and is something I often cover in my workshops.

Advantage to flash is setting characters anywhere

Fairytales with Bite – Magical Rivals

Sparks should fly between magical rivals but how can they stop their magic from destroying themselves given they will face the problem of the other being capable of matching their “firepower”? It is why they’re rivals after all.

What do they use instead of magic to get the upper hand? How to those around them cope with the rivalry and what are the consequences of it for their followers and opponents?

How do those higher up from them deal with these rivals or do the latter take care to ensure they don’t trouble the authorities? The latter would be wise but actions have reactions and consequences which can often spread wider than intended. Could there be any circumstances where the rivals are forced to work together?

Story ideas can also come from exploring what led to the rivalry in the first place. Also whether any of them want the rivalry to end (for reasons of regret at the outcomes of it? Wanting friendship instead?). Even where the rivals themselves are happy to keep things going, are there others determined to put a stop to it and how do they do it?

You could also look at how things develop when rivals do become friends instead. Not everyone would welcome the change. (Who could be exploiting the rivalry to their own ends here and have vested interests in seeing it continue?).


This World and Others – Growing Seasons

How does your fictional world produce its food and are the growing seasons like ours on Earth? If not, why are theirs different and what do they have in the way of light and water for their agriculture? Do your main species grow food or is that the work of robots etc?

Thinking more laterally, we all have seasons in life where we “grow”. We learn a lot, often through hardships etc. Can you explore that idea for your characters? What is it they have had to learn the hard way?

Naturally a growing season also indicates there has to be a dormant one so again look at your characters. What periods of their lives would they consider to be dormant and why? What brought them out of that?

Growth does indicate effort – how much effort do your characters like to contribute? (Not everyone is keen on huge efforts after all, especially if there is no obvious or quick reward for it!).).


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Regular Writing and What Makes a Good Read

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. Hope you had a good weekend. Starting to get rain, thunder etc here. Lady okay with it but does not like being woken up by it. Can’t say I blame her.


Facebook – General

Hope you have had a good day. Not bad here and I managed to get some swimming in as well so that’s good. Managed to duck most of the showers as well – definitely a good day. Lady and I have had plenty of soakings in our time so any time we miss out on that, we feel we have won!

Just to flag up there’s an offer on the paperback on Tripping the Flash Fantastic. See the link at

Writing Tip 9002.5 or thereabouts: Regular writing is important. So is life. If life does get in the way, don’t feel bad about what you can’t do. Focus on what you can.

If it means you need to have another writing session some when else, then fine, so be it. The writing journey is a marathon and not a sprint. Pacing yourself helps a lot.

I must admit I know there are some nights of the week I know I’m not going to get a lot done so I focus on blogging (just adding a few paragraphs sometimes) or I draft a flash story. It gives me something to work on when I do have more time.


Am grateful Lady isn’t fazed by thunder and lightning as we had some in my part of the world at about 11 last night. Her policy here is the same as mine – the sensible one of sleeping through it and letting the weather carry on without you. It’s not as if it needs our help!

My Chandler’s Ford Today post this week will be about Good Interviews. I’ll be looking at what writers can do to help themselves prepare for these as well as looking at interviewing your characters to find out more about them ahead of writing their stories up. Link up on Friday. (And I’m interviewing two great writers for CFT before long – more news nearer the time – so I plan to be practicing what I preach here!).

Chandler's Ford Today post reminder picture(1)Comments welcome for CFT

Changeable weather today with rain forecast this week. Won’t be that sorry, though it will mean Lady and I will probably get a bit wet. The trees here are shedding leaves early to conserve water so the rain is needed. And Lady and I are used to being “drips” anyway so that’s okay!

Many thanks for the comments in on Fitting In, my latest Friday Flash Fiction tale. In case you missed it, you can find it here.

Now this story is loosely based on fact. I did have a dog called Gracie and I did fall for her immediately. Inspiration for story ideas can and does come from incidents in life but also from what I read and sometimes an overheard bit of conversation which intrigues me. (Train journeys are great for that by the way).

It’s being open to the possibility you might get a story from something that is important I think. The more you read, the more you are open to being inspired too.Screenshot 2022-09-02 at 09-11-55 The Arrangement by Allison Symes

Hope you have a happy weekend.

Any autumn plans you’re looking forward to? Any books you’re planning on reading this season? I mentioned the other day I’m currently reading Churchill’s Wizards on Kindle (having just finished the excellent Regal Retribution by Jennifer C Wilson).

It’s a lovely contrast in reading material – non-fiction -v- contemporary fiction (historical crossed with ghost). But I love to mix up my reading and ideas for stories come from both sides of my reading diet. I’ll read something and the cogs get whirring and I jot down ideas for another flash story or blog post. Reading feeds the imagination and it pays all writers to keep theirs topped up.

Best of all, it is fun to do!

And talking of reading, why not check out the latest edition of Mom’s Favorite Reads? It is free to download, has a wealth of articles, photos, stories and, of course, my flash fiction column.

This time I’m talking about Questions and Answers in Flash Fiction. I love questions as they give you a great story structure from the word go. Your story has to answer the question set. Your question draws the reader in – they know there will have to be an answer by the end of the story. Do also check out the flash fiction pieces that came in as a result of my challenge – there are wonderful stories here.

Screenshot 2022-09-03 at 20-32-31 Mom’s Favorite Reads eMagazine September 2022

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Don’t forget I often post flash fiction videos to my YouTube channel. New subscribers are always welcome (and the current ones treasured!). You can find my channel at

Screenshot 2022-09-06 at 20-23-13 Allison Symes


It’s Monday. It’s time for a story I think. Hope you enjoy my latest on YouTubeThe Right Number. No prizes for guessing which random generator I used to trigger the idea for this one!


Does geography come into your fiction at all? It sometimes ventures into mine. For example in A Day Out from Tripping the Flash Fantastic, I refer to Earth Mark Two. I didn’t have the room in this story to say more than that but you immediately know you’re in an alien environment loosely based on what we know here.

More importantly, I didn’t need to say more than that. As ever it is the telling detail which matters here. You can bring the senses in here too.

For example, if you say Character X was standing by the blood red waterfall, you can deduce they must be on a foreign planet even if you don’t give the name of it.

Also think about how geography might impact your story (the quest tale is the obvious one here but it can be done for the smaller flash stories). If your character is on a mission to deliver cakes, (quite possibly to Grandma’s house), how could the geography get in their way and what do they do to bypass that? There’s the story. Readers will want to know if those cakes did get delivered. There’s your structure.

The geography is what causes conflict and challenge for your character and they will have to resolve it as best as they can to be able to do what they are meant to do. Usually failure is not an option (and you can increase the hazards for your character here by making it clear what will happen if they do fail).

May be an image of ‎tree and ‎text that says "‎Just give your readers what they need to know to picture your world. Everything else they will هll in from what they have read/seen on film.‎"‎‎

I often refer to some of my stories as “fairytales with bite” because they often have a twist and they’re not aimed at children. They often see characters getting their comeuppance. I also like to look at stories from the viewpoint of alternative characters to the well known ones.

Indeed my first story in print was A Helping Hand in Bridge House Publishing’s Alternative Renditions. My story looked at an aspect of the Cinderella story from the youngest step-sister’s viewpoint. Great fun to do.

The original fairytales are anything but twee as I’ve mentioned before. They can work so well as in flash fiction format, especially if you want a succinct story focusing on one incident in a character’s life.

My The Poison Pen from From Light to Dark and Back Again looks at the Snow White story from the viewpoint of the crone before the King marries Snow White’s mother and shows early indications of what the crone is like.

This kind of tale can add to the world of the well known fairytales I think. But you need to think about what character you’re going to use for this and work out what you can do with them. In this story’s case, I am showing the crone was like this years prior to the original Snow White story. In other words, she’s got form!

My flash collections are available in Kindle and paperback

Goodreads Author Blog – What Makes You Read?

Leading question, hmm? What makes me read is curiosity first and foremost. I have to find out what happens to the characters in the story. Or I have to find out what an expert is imparting to me via their non-fiction work. I read to escape worries and cares for while. I read because I love stories and finding out things. I read because it is a privilege and pleasure to be able to do so.

Reading fuels the imagination and that is why I think all writers should read widely and regularly, inside and outside of their chosen genre. I’ve had story ideas come to me from reading non-fiction. Occasionally a blog idea will occur to me from reading something in a story. I also see reading as supporting the industry I am part of – makes great sense to me.

Besides, as we go into autumn in my part of the world, what is better than curling up with a hot chocolate and a good book or something fascinating on your Kindle?

Screenshot 2022-09-03 at 20-47-58 What Makes You Read

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