New Year 2021 – Apprehension or Hope?

Image Credit:-

All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated.

Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.

Image of The Writer’s Diary taken by me, Allison Symes. Much appreciated Christmas present!

Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

It’s good to be back in business for Chandler’s Ford Today this week. It always feels a little odd when I don’t post there! My post this week is called New Year 2021 – Apprehension or Hope?

Well, folks, the post does what it says on the tin (readers of a certain vintage will remember the old Ronseal wood stainer adverts that had this as a slogan. Mind you, every time I hear Pachelbel’s Canon in D, I think of the old Wool advert from the 1970s but that does say more about my age than anything else!).

In my post, I discuss the coming 12 month and urge positivity (and I would so love to see a better balance between reporting news we need to know along with news that is more uplifting. I have found too much negativity saps the soul if you let it).

I also encourage building on the positive things. So a gentle start to my CFT writing for this year but that’s no bad thing. Am looking forward to bringing you some fascinating insights from other writers over the next few weeks. More nearer the time. Meanwhile I hope you enjoy this week’s post.

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Happy New Year everyone! Here’s hoping 2021 proves to be a better and happier year for as many of us as possible. And for those facing sad and difficult times that you have all the support you need. I don’t usually celebrate New Year. I almost certainly won’t stay up to see it in. I treasure my sleep more these days but will admit to not being sorry to see the back of 2020.

Writing wise, I hope to build on the good things that have happened this year. Am keeping what I can crossed that writing events such as conferences etc will be back on.

I chat about facing the New Year with apprehension or hope in my Chandler’s Ford Today post this week. Link up tomorrow and once again Happy New Year!

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Great to see a fab review come in for Mulling It Over. This is the Bridge House Publishing anthology for this year. My story, It Is Time, is in there (and if you like a chiller of a story, it is for you). I love reading anthologies as well as being in them as I’ve always enjoyed books which give a wide range of stories. They’re also great ways of trying out authors who are new to you. For writers, of course, they make a great way of building up a publication track record so win-win!

Many thanks for the great responses to my More Than Writers blog spot called Planning Ahead from yesterday (see previous round up post).  Even if you’re not normally a planner, doing some will help you achieve more. (If nothing else jotting down possible ideas can help you rule out what you don’t want to do and that can save you time later).

Massive puppy party over the local park today. Lady had a wonderful time with her best buddy, who is the most sweet tempered Ridgeback. Both went home absolutely shattered (but oh so happy). One good thing about the hard frost this morning? The mud had frozen over so at least I wasn’t squelching through everything!

Anyone for a quick chorus of “always look on the bright side of life”?!!

Screenshot_2020-12-30 Mulling It Over eBook Multiple, Hobbs-Wyatt, Debz, James, Gill Amazon co uk Kindle Store

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

I always find the 1st January to be a strange day, regardless of what day of the week it falls on. It never feels like a holiday. (And this year that feeling it isn’t really a “proper” holiday has increased thanks to the pandemic and the freezing fog. Mind, it has also not helped that the usual post-Christmas walks and family visits didn’t happen).

Have you made any writing plans yet? I’m continuing various things already “on the go”. I haven’t quite finished writing the first draft of my non-fiction project but am within sight of the finishing line so that’s good.

Below is a picture of my writing diary. Am putting this up now as this will be the neatest this book will ever look. My old one was beginning to look rather battered and tired (just like the year itself really!). I didn’t get to use any of the prompts from the last diary but hope to make amends for that this year. I’m sure there are plenty of prompts here I can use to generate flash fiction stories.

Onwards and upwards and forwards then. A New Year is always a time for hope. We really could do with a lot of that right now!

The Writer's Diary

Happy New Year, one and all. I was having a quick look through my flash collection indexes and have realised, while I do tell Christmas related stories, I haven’t written any about a new year. Hmm… if ever there was a time to put that right, I guess it is now, isn’t it?!

Watching the Clock by Allison Symes
I was having such a wonderful time I didn’t want it to end. Yes, I remembered what she’d said about being back home by midnight. But come on, midnight is no time to leave a party, is it?

So I stayed until the bells started to chime and then I did run. What would he think if he saw my shabby dress? I only wish I could have stopped the clock. If midnight never came, I could have continued dancing.

Still I made it home before they came back, full of gossip about who the beautiful stranger was. I couldn’t bear to hear it. I thought going to bed would stop that but no, they were full of it again the following day.

The only comfort I had was when the clock struck midnight this time, it only signalled the start of another day, another year. I wish I could believe it would be the beginning of something better but I have had years of disappointed hopes so I know not to dream any more. I won’t expect more from any new year, yet alone this one.

The dance though is something I will treasure all of my life. That I think is the fairy godmother’s real gift to me.

Hmm… what are they on about now? Something about the Prince marrying the girl whose foot will fit the glass slipper and every lady under 50 has to try the shoe on. I will have to work hard not to laugh when my step sisters try it on. Let’s just say their feet are anything but elegant and dainty.

Maybe this New Year will mean a New Start for me after all. I just have to wait then and keep the other slipper hidden. Wish me luck! It is time mine changed for the better.

Ends
Allison Symes – 31st December 2020

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Hope you enjoy what follows. I thought this would be a different way of getting across a universal truth for writers!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1f3YsXSdrBg

Fairytales with Bite – Wishes a Fairy Godmother Would Love to Grant but Can’t

You would have thought the upside of being a fairy godmother is being able to dole out the odd wish to yourself every now and again but there are rules against such things. For a start, the potential for abuse is obvious. So given the rules, what would fairy godmothers love to grant in the way of wishes that they are forbidden to do? My suggestions are:-

Always making the punishment at least twice as bad as the crime. Why forbidden? Because there would be the risk that fairy godmothers would outdo each other as to how hardline they could be (as nobody would want to be seen to be “soft”).

Also when they are bringing miscreants to book, fairy godmothers want said miscreants to survive to learn their lesson and be able to warn others.

Also the usual idea is to humiliate miscreants and you can do that without using more magical energy than is strictly necessary.

Magic drains the person using it so no fairy godmother is going to waste her powers when she doesn’t have to.

Making cats trainable. This was declared an impossibility millennia ago. No amount of magic is going to change this (which is one reason fairy godmothers have always suspected cats of being magical creatures in their own right, regardless of the connection with witches).

Banning all possibilities of mistranslating a spell. Sounds a good idea but, if granted, it would have meant Cinderella would not have had her glass slipper. That has now become iconic (despite being murder on the feet – though fairy godmothers would see suffering as part of life. The main point they want to make sure of is that they’re not the ones doing the suffering!).

Taking all calories out of chocolate, prosecco and the like. I know. Lovely thought isn’t it? The argument against is you wouldn’t appreciate these wonderful things without the calories. Besides the Tooth Fairy wouldn’t like it. Take out the calories and you’re almost certainly taking out the sugar. That puts her out of a job and she’s not having that.

This World and Others – Marking of the Seasons

How does your fictional world mark the passing of time? Is there such a thing as a year, yet alone a New Year celebration? (Not that there will be much of any of that for any of us this time thanks to the wretched Covid).
Do the seasons match up to what we know on Earth? Or does your fictional world have something unique we would never see here due to the geographical conditions you’ve set up?

Marking of the seasons is something that has been done for millennia and is closely tied to agriculture. You have to know when to sow seed and when to harvest the crops after all. You also need to know when everything is dormant (though there is plenty going on under the soil even in winter, we just don’t see it).

So is there agriculture in your fictional world and, if so, what form does it take? Is there a food based celebration when the crops are brought in? If not, how do your creations survive? What do they eat and how do they get that food?

Even in a hunting community, there should be some sense of seasons given your characters would need to know when they could hunt their food and when their “prey” needs to reproduce so there will be things to hunt the following year etc.

So time matters then. How do you reflect this in your writing?

 

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Twitter Corner

 

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Mulling Over Story News

Image Credit:-

All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated.

Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.

(Though the image of Mulling It Over and Transformations under the Christmas tree was taken by me, as was the screenshot for the North Manchester FM radio show. More on that in the posts below!).

Facebook – General

Delighted to say my copies of Mulling It Over and Transformations arrived today. Stunning covers for them both and wonderful stories inside. A great mix of styles and mood. See more over at my Amazon Author Central page at http://author.to/AllisonSymesAuthorCent

I have a short story in Mulling It Over and three pieces in Transformations. The latter is the paperback compilation of the three ebooks produced by Bridge House Publishing as a result of the last three years’ worth of Waterloo Arts Festival Writing Competition winning tales. And I am delighted that I have a story in each of the three ebooks and so three stories in this compilation. Also pleased to say these two books are now listed under my ALCS record (Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society).

Can you have too many books under the Christmas tree? Of course not! (My wish list to Santa went in some considerable time ago!). It is more difficult to name favourite books though the great thing is nobody says you can only have so many! Just as well too.

Mulling It Over and Transformations under the Christmas tree


Lots happening this week.

Firstly, I’m taking part in the Christmas Book Hub party on 16th December right here on Facebook. I will be sharing a story video with a Christmassy theme (The Help) and there will be a prize too. I’ll be giving away a signed paperback copy of Tripping the Flash Fantastic on the night. Anyone who likes my story video post will be given a number via a random number generator and the person whose number comes up when I make the draw at about 9.30 pm will be the winner. Lucky dip the electronic way basically but all great fun!

I’ve used random number generators before for my launch in October and for From Light to Dark and Back Again back in 2017. Great fun. I use them sometimes to trigger story ideas too. How? I can use the number to mean something special to the characters in my story, or use it as a time (in seconds), or as door number, or a train time etc.

Secondly, I’m pleased to share the link to the radio show where my story, Up to Scratch, will be broadcast on Saturday afternoon (between 2 and 4 pm) on North Manchester FM. Many thanks to Hannah Kate for picking the story and also to Elizabeth Ducie for putting me on to this.

I will be sharing the link to the show itself after the broadcast. See https://hannahkate.net/north-manchester-fm-hannahs-bookshelf-saturday-19-december-2-4pm/ for more and my screenshot below.

Lovely start to the week after a busy Monday (and Lady was busy too. She had a fab time with her Rhodesian Ridgeback buddie this morning and is suitably tired as a result. I expect her buddie is too).

Screenshot_2020-12-14 North Manchester FM Hannah's Bookshelf, Saturday 19 December, 2-4pm - Hannah Kate


Well, I’m glad I raked up leaves yesterday. Today has been a case of soggy Hampshire. Only too glad to be in for a lot of the day AND the countdown to Christmas has now started for me. Why? I watched The Muppet Christmas Carol tonight! One of the best adaptations of that wonderful story and I think the best thing The Muppets did too.

Christmas cards going by post now done and will be off in the box tomorrow.

Writing wise, I’m looking forward to “going” to the Christmas Book Hub Facebook event on Wednesday evening. And my story, Up to Scratch, is due to be part of Hannah’s Bookshelf on North Manchester FM hosted by Hannah Kate later this week.

When I get more details about the time and/or a link to a playback, I’ll share here. It’s another first for me too in that it will be the first time I’ve had a story of mine narrated by someone else.

One of my Christmas Day traditions is a good read in the evening followed by watching some Morecambe and Wise to finish the day off nicely. Looking forward to all of that. And I hope you have plenty of books listed on your wish list to Santa.

 


Hope Saturday has been a nice day. Have continued my autumn/winter workout by raking up leaves. You appreciate coming into a nice warm house after that. An Options orange hot chocolate drink also goes down well after that!

Making good progress on the non-fiction book, have prepped a blog which will appear later this month (as in December I am keen to get anything like that done this side of Christmas – it pays!), and am delighted to say a flash tale of mine has been picked to appear on a festive flash fiction radio show (and a big thanks to #ElizabethDucie for putting me on to this).

I hope to share more details on that later next week but it will be a lovely way to end the year. Am also preparing something for a Facebook event mid-week, again will share more on that next week. (More on this above).

Am sketching out an idea for what will be my first CFT mini-series for 2021 plus continuing to write flash stories which I hope will make it into a third collection in due course.

But I do hope 2021 will see the return of writing events (as well as continuing to use Zoom to make events more accessible). I have missed the interaction which happens when you go to an event.

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Am hoping to get my Facebook posts up earlier than normal tomorrow as I will be taking part in the Christmas Book Hub Facebook party tomorrow evening (16th December). Looking forward to this as I know it will be great fun. And I’ll get to spread the word about the joys of flash fiction too.

The challenges of flash fiction, I suppose, are obvious – the reduced word count and finding the right market for your work, though the latter is true for whatever kind of writing you do. You do get used to the word count restriction though and these days, anything over 1000 words, seems lengthy to me even if I’m over by just one word!

It took me a while to realise my natural writing home (bar my Chandler’s Ford Today posts) is the sub-500 words kind of story. It is what most of my stories seem to naturally come in at and that’s fine. You then learn to play to your strengths but this is all part of the writing journey. You find out what you love doing the most writing wise (and this is what will come to you naturally as you are writing from the heart here). You then focus on that!

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New story video time. Please see the link for A Misguided Day Out which I hope you enjoy. (Definitely not seasonal in my part of the world right now!). What I am enjoying doing here is creating the video in Book Brush, uploading it to Youtube and scheduling it, then going back in to edit the video and add an audio track using the free music available in Youtube. All great fun. And little stories make a great quick read when time is off the essence, which I think is true for most of us right now!


What is your favourite part of a story? I’ve always loved the classic fairytale opening of “once upon a time”, but the bit I really couldn’t wait to get to was when our hero/heroine won through. I was always interested in seeing how that was going to be done (and what would happen the nasty beings getting in our hero/heroine’s way). I guess that should have flagged up a career as a writer could well be in the pipeline!

Even as a kid, I knew life wasn’t fair. Stories were a way of sometimes redressing the balance a bit. I still do find it quietly satisfying when one of my villains gets what’s coming to them and all that. And that is why I think I will always retain my love of fairytales and the fantastic (and why I have a soft spot for crime stories too).

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This story came about as a result of a writing prompt where I had to write a “love letter” to a cherished object. No real surprises at what I picked here!

MY DARLING
I love every moment in your company. You do all that you are meant to do but with such flowing grace it is an absolute pleasure to work with you.
I’ve drafted so many stories with you. I save your cousin, the red pen, for the editing of course, but with you, the writing flows. I can just invent and have fun.
You are the humble biro.
More power to you, pen!
Ends
Allison Symes – December 2020


Goodreads Author Blog – Books FOR Santa.

Humorous post from me this time. I know I like to relax at the end of the day with a good book so what would Santa choose when he has completed a task well done for another year? I make some reading suggestions for the great man here

Now I don’t know about you, but at the end of the day I love my reading time. It’s the perfect way to wind down before sleeping. And there is nothing to beat putting your feet up and enjoying a good read unless you are doing that and eating a big bar of chocolate at the same time! (Let’s assume no mess!).

So let’s give some thought to someone who, when they finally get to put their feet up after a task well done, ought to be able to relax with a good book. So just what would Santa read? My list of books for Santa to read would include:-

  • Improve your World Geography Knowledge in Ten Easy Steps
  • How to Get the Best Out of Your Transport
  • Insulating Your Home The Easy Way
  • What You Really Need to Know about Elves
  • The All Time Great Flight Paths
  • A Christmas Carol (Scrooge prior to the ghosts’ visits would definitely be on the naughty list).
  • The Never Ending Story (Santa is likely to have a lot of sympathy with this one).
  • The Ultimate Gift Guide (not that Santa would really need this. It would be more of a case of keeping an eye on any possible competition!).
  • Perfect Parcel Wrapping – You Too Can Do This!
  • 1001 Carrot Recipes

I hope you have plenty of books on your list to Santa. It goes without saying I have!

 

Twitter Corner

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Bridge House Celebration, ALCS, and the What If question

Image Credit:-

All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated.

Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Image of me with wild hair and Tripping The Flash Fantastic taken by Adrian Symes.

Facebook – General

Great to see Amazon have updated my Author Central page quickly so Mulling It Over and Transformations are now both on there.  (Lovely to see a good collection building up here!). And that has reminded me to add these books to ALCS too. What is ALCS?

As I’m a member of the Society of Authors, I have free membership to ALCS (the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society). ALCS collects money from copyright licences etc and distributes said monies to authors. There is no way any one writer could possibly keep tabs on X making photocopies of their work here, Y doing it there and so on.

If you’re not a member of the Society of Authors, you can still join ALCS. It costs £36.00 and this is lifetime membership, not per year. See https://www.alcs.co.uk/how-to-join for more.

I had my first modest pay-out from ALCS back in March and most welcome it was too. Do check out their website for more information. The main thing to remember is to update your details when you have new works out. And this includes, for me, not just my two flash fiction collections, but all of the paperback anthologies I have been in and continue to have work appear in.

(The reasons for the emphasis on paperback is ALCS need you to tell them the ISBN number and ebooks don’t have that. They have an ASIN which ALCS do not work with but given most anthologies come out in ebook and paperback, you can at least register the latter!).

Very well worth doing. (And another little task ticked off my writing admin list today!).

Even colder than yesterday here in Hampshire though Lady did get to have a fab time with her busy buddy, a lovely Rhodesian Ridgeback today. No chance of them getting cold with all that running around.

I’m going to be having a look at Continuing Professional Development and how it can apply to writers in my Chandler’s Ford Today post this week. Have also put in my book order for copies of Mulling It Over and Transformations and have also asked Amazon to add these two to my Author Central page in due course. Hopefully they’ll appear on there later this week. I’ve usually found Amazon answer such requests quickly.

It is nice to see a good collection of books appearing on my page now. This is not something I anticipated when starting out but it does show the value, I think, of persistence, keeping going, and learning over time to get better at targeting my work to the appropriate market. And yes, it does take time. But this is true for everybody and I found that quite encouraging when I was starting out. It is good to know it is not just you!

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Brrr… so cold today. Even Lady wasn’t sorry to get in from her evening walk. Enjoyed watching The Polar Express tonight. One of my favourite Christmas films along with A Muppet Christmas Carol. Better half put the decorations up yesterday so the old homestead is looking festive. Am very thankful Lady leaves the tree alone.

Making good progress on my non-fiction project. Am on track to finish the first draft by the end of the year. Whenever I write anything, I always feel a certain relief on getting that first draft down. I love the creative side but I also enjoy the editing and getting the work into good shape ready for submitting somewhere. I swear I can almost feel the draft getting better as I take out my usual wasted words and sharpen up what remains. I like that feeling.

I’ve also got a third flash collection on the go. I plan to resume work on that once I’ve got the first draft of the non-fiction project done as I know I’ll need to rest that for a while so I can look at it with fresh eyes when I get back to it.

Writing is the gift that keeps on giving in many ways.

Firstly, boredom is a thing of the past as I’ve always got something to work on!

Secondly, writing stretches me. I want to keep trying to get better at what I do.

Thirdly, to write well you need to read well so you get two activities in one here. But best of all?

Making friends thanks to a shared love of writing!

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It was great seeing everyone at the Bridge House Publishing celebration event this afternoon. It was lovely to see friends and meet new people and the turnout was wonderful. There was plenty to celebrate too, despite the obvious problems affecting everyone this year.

There were plenty of new books out via Bridge House, including the recently released Mulling It Over and Transformations. Plus there were new single author collections out too, including my own Tripping The Flash Fantastic.

There was a cryptic clue quiz. I was hopeless at it but I always am at cryptic clues. It was something of a relief that I did get my book title in amongst the mix, plus the two I’ve had the pleasure and privilege of editing for Bridge House this year. (And that really was about my lot!).

There was lovely mix of stories read too and I read Progressing. This was my first winning story for the Waterloo Arts Festival Writing Competition (and is in the new Transformations book too).

All great fun and we are all looking forward to next year’s events! Pics for this one are the Cafelit (BB) mock up, the tunnel one, my anthologies one, and the phone one plus the “sky” one for FLTDBA and TTFF.

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Delighted to share my latest story video on Youtube. This is one of my acrostic flash tales called Autumn. Let’s just say the video is apt for the tale and that no spades were harmed in the making of this story! Hope you enjoy.

 

As well as my own flash collections, I often contribute flash pieces to CafeLit. My Humourless in The Best of CafeLit 9 is one of my most recent and is on the darker side for me. The idea for this piece came to me when I asked one of my favourite writing questions – the old classic “what if”? What if someone had lost their sense of humour due to their job? What could that job be?

Finding a starting point for your stories is crucial and asking the “what if” question is an invaluable place to begin because it should trigger other questions and you will find yourself wanting to know what the answers are. If you can be hooked into finding out the answers, then hopefully a reader will be too.

Other useful starting points include using Kipling’s famous serving men – What, Where, How, Why, When, and Who? Anything that makes you ask questions to find out more about the character and what they’re facing is going to help you plot out the story in more depth.

The tricky bit is in working out what the most relevant points are and focusing only on those. This is why I find flash’s restricted word count useful. It makes me focus and that’s no bad thing.

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It was especially nice to talk to a fellow flash fiction writer, Dawn Knox, for Chandler’s Ford Today last week. Always good to advertise the form and to show what can be done with it.

Flash is a great vehicle for character studies. I find those work best when kept short (as is the case with monologues) and flash fiction is ideal – a match made in writing heaven perhaps.

When I’ve drafted a flash story I ask myself certain questions about it.

  • Does the story make the impact I thought it would before I wrote it?
  • How does the character make me react/feel? (No reaction = character not strong enough = no story).
  • Have I marked up my usual suspects of wasted words ready to take out for the second draft?
  • What phrases have I used that could be fine tuned into creating stronger images for the reader?

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Delighted to see another review come in for Tripping The Flash Fantastic. Many thanks! Reviews really do help authors. Neither do reviews have to be lengthy. I use reviews myself when checking out potential books to read or when I’m wondering whether to try a new grocery product!

Had a fab time at the Bridge House Publishing event this afternoon. It is one of the highlights of my writing year. It was great to see a good turnout too. I did miss the actual getting together (and the splendid authors’ lunch that precedes it!) but I am sure we will make up for that next year!

But the biggest thing about Zoom is making events accessible and it was wonderful to see some of Bridge House’s more far flung authors able to take part in today’s event. When the nightmare of Covid is over, I want to see Zoom continuing. It has been one of the more positive things about this whole year.

Screenshot_2020-12-05 Amazon co uk Customer reviews Tripping the Flash Fantastic

 

Goodreads Author Blog – New For Old?

New for old is a catchphrase from Aladdin of course but is this something that is appropriate for book lovers?

After all I love old books. I love new books. I just love books!

I think it is good to have a balance of old favourites. These are my comfort reads when I need that.

I also like to read new books, especially from contemporary writers. It is good to know what is being put out there now.

One handy side benefit to making writer friends is this does help ensure you do get plenty of contemporary reading in. I take great pleasure from the fact I have shelves which are packed full of fab books written by people I’ve come to know and count as friends. I always look forward to adding to my shelves in that regard. I can’t wait to get back to book events so I can pick up those books signed by said friends in person.

Naturally I’m looking forward to being able to hold some book events of my own in due course.

So have I got books on my Christmas list?

What do you think?!

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Introducing Dawn Knox – The Chronicles Continue.

Image Credit:-

All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated.

Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.

Images of Dawn Knox/The Macaroon and Basilwade Chronicles/The Great War/play photos were all supplied by Dawn Knox. Many thanks to her.

Image of Wendy H Jones kindly supplied for her.

And a big thanks to the organisers of the Facebook Group, Christmas Book Hub, for creating the wonderful bookshop image for their page, which currently features Tripping The Flash Fantastic. Very very happy to give them a shout out!

Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

I’m delighted to welcome #DawnKnox to Chandler’s Ford Today for the next two weeks as we discuss her writing journey, celebrate her new book, the hilarious The Macaroon Chronicles, and look at her varied career which includes playwriting. Dawn will be sharing her thoughts about writing and also chats about the joys and pitfalls of writing humorous prose.

Feature Image - Dawn Knox interview Part 1

The Macaroon Chronicles

It is always a great joy to chat to a fellow flash fiction and CafeLit/Bridge House Publishing writer and I’m looking forward to catching up with Dawn and many other colleagues at the BHP celebration event (online) on 5th December.

Will so miss seeing everybody in person but at least Zoom gives us the chance to meet online. And I can’t wait to share Part 2 of Dawn’s fab interview next week.

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Brrr…. It’s getting chilly out there not that Lady noticed. She had a fab run with a lovely Saluki/whippet cross this morning. Lovely to see them both having a great time.

Have been having fun with Book Brush again. This is my latest effort.

Really looking forward to sharing Part 1 of my interview with Dawn Knox on Chandler’s Ford Today. Look out for this tomorrow. Dawn is a delight to chat to and I always learn something useful from interviews like this.

No two writers have the same writing journey and I find it endlessly fascinating what has worked for one, what has worked for another and so on.

Dawn will be discussing her latest book, The Macaroon Chronicles, which is hilarious. If you need a cheerful read, do check this out.

Am catching up with some non-fiction reading at the moment. I’m reading London: The Biography by Peter Ackroyd. It’s a hefty tome but a fascinating read and I just love the idea of writing a biography about a city. Interesting approach to take on it.

Whether what I learn from this fab book filters into my writing later on remains to be seen but I do know non-fiction can often spark ideas for story writers. An interesting fact here and there can trigger story ideas so don’t overlook reading non-fiction as part of your overall reading “diet”.

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Had the perfect dentist’s appointment today. No. It wasn’t at two-thirty (tooth hurty – veterans of the old gag circuit will easily recognise that one!). I got out with nothing having to be done! So win-win immediately there…

Looking forward to “going” to the Bridge House Celebration event on 5th December. Normally this would be in London but of course it will be a Zoom session only for this year. The event is FREE but you do need to register. See https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/launch-and-celebration-event-tickets-127841763155 for more details. Hope to see you “there”.

These events are always great fun and, if ever there was a year we could all do with some of that, this year is it.

Personally speaking, what is lovely is being able to celebrate The Best of Cafelit 9, where I have two stories published; Mulling It Over, the new Bridge House annual anthology where I have a standard length short story published; Transforming Communities, where I had a 1000 word story published (this was the Waterloo Arts Festival writing competition book); and, of course, Tripping the Flash Fantastic.

Despite everything else going on in 2020, publication wise it has been a good year. And there’s more to come. A little later on the three ebooks from the last three years of the Waterloo Arts Festival will be published in one single paperback. Am looking forward to sharing details about that in due course.

This year has been a good one for professional development too in terms of video making, setting up the Youtube channel, revamping the website, appearing on Chat and Spin Radio, appearing on #WendyHJones’ The Writing and Marketing Show. And Book Brush has been a revelation too.

The flip side? I have so desperately missed meeting up with writer friends in person at Swanwick, Winchester, the Association of Christian Writer events, and the Bridge House/Waterloo Arts Festival celebration days.

Let’s hope for better things for 2021 but I guess if this year has shown anything, for me at least, it has been doing what you can when you can and making the most of things like Zoom.

Oh and keep on writing and submitting of course!

Happy writing!

Book Brush - Cafelit 9, Mulling It Over, TransformationsBookBrushImage-2020-11-16-21-040

From Light to Dark and Back Again

I enjoy being part of a number of writing groups etc on Facebook. These groups are a lovely way to meet other writers, albeit only online in some cases, and I always learn a lot from them.

I am part of the Christmas Book Hub – see https://www.facebook.com/groups/bookhub/permalink/1003208640189243/ for more.

#PatriciaMOsborne, one of the founders of this, is someone I know from the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School and I’ve had the pleasure of chatting to her for my Chandler’s Ford Today posts in the past too.

Now I mention this for two reasons:-

1. If you want to create a book buying list for Christmas, do start here!

2. There is a wonderful banner for this Facebook page – of books in a Christmassy shop window. The books on this change every so often and my Tripping the Flash Fantastic is on there at the moment.

The artwork for this is wonderful and it is a great pleasure and privilege to see my book on there. A huge thanks to the organisers behind this page on behalf of all of the authors on here. Online things like this are always useful but never more so than now during what has been such a strange year for us all.

And it is a timely reminder to say that do DM the authors on this page, including me, if you would like to know more about buying signed copies of our books.

We would be so pleased to hear from you!

TTFF in Christmas Book Hub shop windowScreenshot_2020-11-27 Facebook Groups

I’ve mentioned my love of mixing up the kind of flash fiction stories I write before. I do think one of the great strengths of flash fiction is because it needs to be character led, you can get to set that character anywhere you want in genre and time period, past, present, and future.

The crucial thing is to have a character who is worthy of being written up! Even if you don’t plan any other writing, I do think giving thought to what your lead character is going to be (or likely to be, I know things can change in the editing), is important.

If you want to write a story about a financially astute character but discover the way you’ve portrayed your lead, they’re more likely to be as astute as a chocolate teapot, then you have an issue (though it could make for a wonderfully funny or tragic piece, depending on how you wanted to “play” it).

But things like that should be a conscious decision by you as the writer. You can’t rely on “happy accidents”. You can rely on some forward planning though!

Many thanks to everyone for the wonderful reviews so far for Tripping the Flash Fantastic. They are much appreciated and I was delighted to see two new ones in today.

Appropriately for a flash fiction collection, I will stress reviews don’t have to be long and they are a great way of supporting authors. (This year we are even more grateful than we usually are for that kind of support. I have missed being able to go to writing events dreadfully. Fingers crossed for next year!).

Do I review books myself? Oh yes. One of the things I love about the writing world in general is there is a lot of give and take and that is only right. All of us know the pains and pleasures of bringing stories/books/articles to life etc. All of us appreciate the support from others but it is good when you can give support back. I like to see it as paying it forward and back.

Screenshot_2020-11-25 Amazon co uk Customer reviews Tripping the Flash Fantastic(1)Screenshot_2020-11-25 Amazon co uk Customer reviews Tripping the Flash Fantastic

Fairytales With Bite – Twists and Turns

Fairytales are full of twists and turns, which is another reason to love them. You know, after you’ve read a few (and/or listened to them when you were a kid), that the underdog will somehow come out on top, usually with the aid of a friendly fairy godmother or talking cat or some such thing.

Fairytales are great because you accept that magic is part of the setting and it is a question of finding out who is going to use it, whether they’ll use it to do good or not, whether it backfires etc etc. But you also know the character being helped this way has somehow got to be worthy of it. Fairy godmothers don’t just turn up for anybody!

So when planning your own fairytales/magical realism/fantasy stories, think about what your twists and turns are going to be. Magic is going to be around but don’t overdo it.

I know as a reader I like to see characters who are trying to improve things for themselves, who are being thwarted or held back through no fault of theirs, and then hey presto the fairy godmother turns up. It is also not a bad thing to show the downside of magic.

As with any source of power it can be abused so think about how that might happen in your creations and what your characters could do to overcome this (assuming of course they want to and they’re not the ones abusing the magic! In the case of the latter, I would like to see some sort of “back fire” happen so said characters have to behave in a better way and/or don’t get away with what they’re doing and/or are thwarted by other characters).

Expect the unexpected is a good motto here but as the writer think about how this could play out in your stories. Plan what your twists will be and how they will be executed. What clues will readers have to look back on and think later “I should’ve spotted that”?

And just as life is full of ups and downs, so your stories should be. But the nice thing with stories is you can make them end on a good note! Stories can be arranged!

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This World and Others – What Is Normal?

Now there’s a leading question but it is a vital one. Whether your created world is a fantasy one or set here firmly on Earth, you do need to work out what is going to be normal/perceived as normal by your characters. (Readers of course may well think entirely differently!).

So what kind of setting are you using? If here on Earth, will be in an Earth we would recognize? You could of course set up an alternative based on certain aspects of history being changed.

If X happened instead of Y, what would Earth look like as a result? The series The Man In The High Castle was based on that. If you’re using a fantasy setting, what aspects would appeal to readers? Which wouldn’t? Which are necessary to the successful running of that setting?

For your characters themselves, would we recognise their behaviours as normal? If not, why are they different and in their setting, is their behaviour considered oddball or not?

Working out details like this early on can save you a lot of editing and rewriting later on so I think it is worth doing. Even if you don’t want to plan to the “nth” degree, wanting to see where the story and characters take you, I still think it pays to jot down a few basic notes.

Character A is capable of this because…. The setting is this because…. What you jot down here really is an aid for you and I am all for things that help make the writer’s life smoother!

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Waterloo Arts Festival Online and Story News

Image Credit:  As ever, Pixabay and Pexels generally unless stated otherwise.

Plenty going on over the last few days… phew!

Facebook – General

Had a wonderful time at the online Waterloo Arts Festival launch for Transforming Communities last night (Friday, 12th June 2020). Great to see many friends there and the readings were fantastic. Well done, everyone.

I’ll be sharing a book trailer for Transforming Communities later in the week but meantime I thought I would share this…

Hope you enjoy. Video also below.

As well as my video being here (with a taster of my story, Books and The Barbarians), there is a great intro for #MaxineChurchman too.

There is a series of these Meet the Winners posts, each combining a video with a short text from two winners. These will give you a good flavour of the wonderful mix that has gone into this ebook. Do check it out.

 

I hope you’ve had a lovely weekend. This one has been really nice for me. I

Loved being part of the Waterloo Arts Festival online on Friday. It was good fun and it was great to see everyone. I always love hearing extracts from stories. What’s not to like about that?

For the first time since lockdown, my sister and her partner came over for tea and cakes in the garden and a lovely time was had by all. Amazing how the simple things can boost your morale the most at times.

And I’m reading some smashing short story collections on Kindle at the moment so my reading drought is over. Hope to review in due course.

I’m preparing interview material where I’m on the receiving end of the questions AND where I’m setting them. Watch this space as they say!

And the ebook of Transforming Communities is now on my Amazon Author Central page. It is lovely to see the number of books increasing here! I can’t wait to be able to see Tripping the Flash Fantastic up on here too!

Hope you have a fabulous week.

Facebook – General – Further Publication News!

Lovely start to the week. My story It Is Time will be published in Bridge House Publishing’s Mulling It Over anthology later this year. Always a pleasure to return a signed contract to a publisher! I could do with more Mondays like this…

Many congratulations to all of the other wonderful writers in the collection. Good to see some familiar names here and equally great to see names that are new to me in this anthology.

I am very much looking forward to reading the collection in due course. What can be guaranteed is a fantastic mix of stories in terms of style and mood.

 

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Many thanks for the good wishes and congratulations yesterday on my recent publication news. Very much appreciated!

My CFT post this week is going to be a look back at how the Waterloo Arts Festival Writing Competition Event worked as a purely online Zoom affair. It is the first time I’ve taken part in a festival in this way. All good experience! (And for the WAF running it too I should think!).

On to other issues and question of the day is what it is about stories you love the most?

For me, it is always about the characters. I’ve got to be intrigued enough by them to want to read what they get up to but how about you?

My big problem with books, though it is a lovely one to have, is having too many I want to read and not enough time. Doesn’t matter if they’re paperback or ebook, I have the same dilemma. Still I’m never short of a good read! How about you?

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

The Waterloo Arts Festival ebook launch for Transforming Communities went very well last night. Great mixture of styles and stories. Was lovely to hear the extracts and I enjoyed reading mine too.

If you want to check the stories out in full, see the link above or my Amazon Author Central page (link further up this blog post)!

Transforming Communities Full

 

I was having some fun with the random word generator tonight and selected choosing four words at a time. The ones that came up were:-

Experience, Elect, Rebellion, and Uranium.

Now there’s an explosive mix for you!!

So how could you use these in a story?

1. You could try getting all four words into your story in any order.

2. If you want to make your life a bit more difficult, get them into the story in the order in which they were generated.

3. Pick one of them as your theme and/or title but get the others into the story itself.

4. Ensure your first paragraph contains the four words.

5. Or finish your story with your last paragraph containing the four words.

The nice thing with the generator is you can choose the number of words you go for. So play around with things like this and see them as a generator for story ideas. The fact you don’t know what will come up forces you to think creatively around what DOES emerge.

Have fun!

 

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Great start to the week with my It Is Time being accepted for the annual BHP anthology. That will be called Mulling It Over and will be released later this year.

One joy of writing both flash fiction and short stories is while nobody should underestimate the time taken to produce these and edit them etc., because you are writing so many more of them, publication news can come in much more frequently than if say you were writing a novel a year.

That is one aspect to writing in the short form I like a lot! And I highly recommend it!

One thing I learned years ago was that if writing appears to read easily, regardless of whether that work is a novel, a play, a 100-word story or what have you, the guarantee is that the author worked hard for years to get to that point. And continues to work hard!

On that particular piece of work they will have edited, put aside for while, edited again and again.

I do find deadlines useful here. It can be easy to put off submitting something because you’re not quite happy with your story. Having a deadline (even if it is one you impose on yourself) is a great way of making yourself submit work.

I can’t recommend enough getting into the habit of regularly submitting work. It makes you produce more stories. The more you write, the more you will learn, the more chances you have of one of your pieces or more being “out there” and therefore in with a chance of being acepted.

I found it helped a lot when I recognised rejections were nothing personal, that every writer has them and keeps getting them, but you learn from what works and what doesn’t.

Good luck!

Many thanks for all the support after yesterday’s publication news. It has been a good couple of weeks! 😆😆

Of course the reality is I wrote those stories a while ago. You can’t know if your work is going to be accepted or not. And stories I’m writing now or have done in the last few weeks… well it is likely to be at least a couple of months before I know anything about those.

I do know a couple of competition entries haven’t been placed (no hear basically!) so I will be looking at those again at some point and seeing what else can be done. There is always room for improvement in these things!

But taking the long view, having work nearly always out there or on the point of being about to be out there, ARE good things and I’ve found both very useful. No time to mope over no hears or rejections for a start! On to the next story. Allow a little time to go by. Look at the old story and see if it can be revamped or whether it is worth trying a different competition with it.

Always things to be working on!

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Goodreads Author Blog – Ebook -v- Paperback

Now I must declare an interest in this topic. I’ve been published in both formats and so, naturally, I love both. Well you would, wouldn’t you?

My trusty old Kindle goes with me whenever I’m away at events or holiday (not that this is happening right now!). But when I want some comfort reading, I will nearly always turn to a trusty paperback.

Flash fiction and short story collections I nearly always have on the Kindle. Most of the novels I read are in paperback.

I have a nice mixture of ebook and paperback for non-fiction books. (And yes I do take advantage of special offers on ebooks. It can and does make the difference as to whether I buy a book at all at times and this is another reason why I have no problems with book format. I also don’t mind at all if my book and the anthologies my work has appeared in sell well in either format! Naturally, ideally I’d like them to do well in both!).

So however you read, enjoy.

Whatever you read, enjoy!

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