All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Some images created in Book Brush using Pixabay pictures.
Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.
Image of Wendy H Jones kindly supplied by her. Many thanks to Janet Williams (my lovely editor at Chandler’s Ford Today) for the image of me reading at a book signing at our local railway station (yes, really!). Also to Geoff Parkes and Penny Blackburn for their images of me reading at various Swanwick Writers’ Summer School Open Prose Mic night events. All great fun.
And I think I’ve finally cracked the “most unusual title for a blog post” category! Read on to find out how the inside of a ping pong ball is relevant for my flash fiction writing this week. If you had asked me last week whether I would anticipate such a thing, the answer would have been a firm “no”! How much can change in a week?!
Facebook – General
A huge thanks to the #DundeeCityWriters – I was talking to them over Zoom last night on the topic of flash fiction (naturally!) and it was such fun. Many thanks for hosting me.
(Also one of the best ways to show what flash fiction is to read some out and I always enjoy doing that. I’m hoping the Open Prose Mic Night will be on again at Swanwick Writers’ Summer School this year. Flash works well for this kind of thing. You can’t go on for too long for one thing!).
My Chandler’s Ford Today post this week is on the subject of Favourite Lines. I’ve touched on this topic before but for this post I will also be looking at how catchphrases and repetition can help us form said favourite lines. Looking forward to sharing that on Friday.
Many thanks for the wonderful responses to my rather unusual tale, The Inside of a Ping Pong Ball, which I posted yesterday (see below) in reply to a writing challenge set by #WendyHJones on Wordy Chat. (The latter is a Facebook group set up by fellow Association of Christian Writers member, Maressa Mortimer – lots of giggles and chats about the writing world – naturally we meet on Zoom).
I have two standard ways of getting into a story. By far my favourite is working out who the character Is, what their main trait is etc as that usually gives a pretty good idea of the kind of story in which such a creation would appear. But my other way into a story is with a promising title and that was the take I took on this one.
The Inside of a Ping Pong Ball not only gave me my title, it set the tone (with a title like that it had to be a humorous tale), and therefore the kind of character likely to be in it.
As promised yesterday, here is the flash fiction tale I wrote in response to a challenge set on Wordy Chat the other night. The story title says it all!
The Inside of a Ping Pong Ball
Look, don’t blame me. I have to travel in whatever vessel I can find and blend in with my surroundings. I am in what you humans call a sports hall doing various horrid things with balls and bats and making yourself all sweaty. So gross!
But it means I am currently curled up inside a ping pong ball. It’s cramped in here. I’ve had to shrink my normal size down by well over 80% to get in here. Trust me that is not a comfortable experience.
I am here to study you lot on the order of the big bosses. Personally, I would far rather have gone to the seaside.
But I have to go where the bosses tell me to go. (Would so love to tell them where they can go but they’re not forgiving of any kind of insubordination and I do like living so that rules this out).
To be honest with you, I think they’re preparing for an invasion.
I’m going to tell them not to bother.
I’ve seen the way you treat other ping pong balls. Smash them about with absolutely no thought. What would you do to the likes of an alien invader?
I tell you it is terrifying to think about.
So you lot have won. And I must get out of this ball before…
Arggh! Too late.
Allison Symes – 2nd May 2021
Hope you have had a good Saturday.
New author newsletter from me went out earlier today. See https://www.facebook.com/501180463318271/posts/3429068970529391/ if you missed this.
If you would like to receive the newsletter regularly, please sign up at my landing page at https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com – on receipt of the welcome email, you’ll get a link to a giveaway as well.
I’m enjoying putting the newsletters together and, unless there is some specific time urgent news, will keep these to monthly send outs.
In other news, as they say, the next couple of topics for Chandler’s Ford Today will be on Favourite Lines and Understanding. I look forward to sharing those blogs as it is always a joy to talk about favourite lines from books and I make the case for how reading encourages empathy in the latter post.
Am currently drafting a flash fiction story based on what is probably the most unusual location I’ve chosen to date. Well, I say chosen. It’s a response to a challenge set on Wordy Chat last night, where a group of writers from the Association of Christian Writers get together for a good giggle and lots of talk about writing related topics. Those who were at Wordy Chat last night will know what the location is but will share the story tomorrow! (See above – and I hope you enjoy it. I loved writing it).
Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again
Many thanks for the lovely responses to my story video Late Running. (See below for video). Also to The Inside of a Ping Pong Ball. (See above for story).
One lovely thing that came up with the latter was I used it in my talk to the #DundeeCityWriters group I spoke to via Zoom yesterday about flash fiction. I used it to prove my point that flash fiction lends itself beautifully to being able to set characters anywhere!
And the great thing? Dundee City Writers is led by #WendyHJones who set the topic of The Inside of a Ping Pong Ball at last week’s Wordy Chat!
What goes around etc etc!
Still, I think I am going to have to try very hard to think of a more unusual setting for a flash fiction story!
Pleased to share my latest story video. Hope you enjoy Late Running. Pun intentional (and indeed for a lot of my flash fiction it is a case of no pun knowingly overlooked! Why the fondness for puns? I love them anyway but for flash, having words and phrases that can carry double meanings helps with (a) impact and (b) keeping that old word count nice and trim!).
Over on my author page at https://www.facebook.com/allison.symes.50 I’ve shared a flash fiction story, The Inside of a Ping Pong Ball, which was written in response to a writing challenge set by Scottish crime writer, #WendyHJones. It is certainly a top runner for the most unusual writing challenge I’ve responded to (!) but it was great fun to do.
And it is important to have fun with your writing. Okay, there are times when it won’t feel that way. I find being over-tired can sap the joy out of writing (and everything else come to that) so I try to avoid getting into that state.
But one lovely thing about flash fiction, especially if you’re working on a longer project and it is proving to be a slog-fest, drafting a very short story can be a refreshing break from your main writing work and you have something else to submit elsewhere later.
And when I am tired, just jotting down a couple of hundred words, whether it is a full flash tale or will end up being part of a longer one, still makes me feel connected to the creative process. That in itself makes me feel better.
One of the best ways to demonstrate flash fiction to people is to read some to them! I’ve done this a few times now at things like the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School Open Prose Mic and even at book signings. (That led to sales -win-win there!). I’ve found the 100-word stories (aka the drabble) work best for this. They don’t take too long to read and demonstrates the capacity of flash fiction well, especially for impact on a reader.
I’ve mentioned before here and on my author page that reading work out loud is great for literally hearing whether your dialogue is as smooth as you think it is. What looks good written down doesn’t always work so well when spoken out loud. But this technique also works for the rest of your prose. If you stumble over something, you can be sure your readers will too. And again with flash it is easy to read a piece out loud and hear whether or not something is working.
Goodreads Author Blog – Why Books are Special to Me
I could write chapter and verse on this week’s topic, appropriately enough. So where to start on why books are special to me?
My love of books and stories comes from my late mother who encouraged my love of reading and taught me to read before I started school. Books were regularly given as presents. I would often buy books with pocket money and money gifts sent by my relatives for Christmas etc. I went to the library a lot.
Best of all, Mum had a lovely collection of books herself, which I now have. And I so wanted to have a collection of my own (which I have). As well as being read to as a child, which is so important, I saw Mum read for pleasure herself more often than I could say. It sent the unspoken message that this was definitely an okay thing to do – and it is!
Then there are the books with particular meaning. I treasure the Bibles given to me by my late parents and the one given to me by my son.
I love The Reader’s Digest of Classic Fairytales two volume set. I spent hours reading those and loving the beautiful illustrations. I remember the shock I first had on reading The Little Mermaid in here and discovering fairytales didn’t always have happy ever after endings. I identified with the way The Ugly Duckling felt and cheered when all did work out well in the end. (You know full well as a kid it doesn’t always work that way in life, You know it even more as an adult).
I treasure my paperback of The Lord of The Rings and my copy of Pride and Prejudice.
For me, there is absolutely nothing about a book to dislike.
I like my paperbacks, my hardbacks, my audio and ebooks. The format doesn’t matter. The fact it is a book does!
liked Allison Symes's blog post: Why Books Are Special To Me https://t.co/P7Ublyhkck via @goodreads I could write chapter and verse on this topic aptly enough but here I share a little about my love of books. Always time to celebrate books! pic.twitter.com/jlxmcbDtHH— Allison Symes (@AllisonSymes1) May 1, 2021
Pleased to share my latest story video. Hope you enjoy Late Running. https://t.co/curtvKmf88— Allison Symes (@AllisonSymes1) May 3, 2021
Many thanks @valeriepenny – cover/tags. @gailaldwin @TeresaBassett20 @inkjunkie1984 @WendyHJones @Ruthleighwrites @franhill123 @Richard_Hardie_ @GillJames @SunriseCalls @Darkfantasy13 https://t.co/PI2CH0D1Yh pic.twitter.com/7nIAXl43aC— Allison Symes (@AllisonSymes1) May 4, 2021