Getting Into Character Heads and New Stories

Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Some images created in Book Brush using Pixabay photos.
Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Images of me reading at Swanwick Open Prose Mic Nights taken by Geoff Parkes and Penny Blackburn. Image of me book signing at Swanwick was taken by Fiona Park. Many thanks, folks. Looking forward to seeing you again at Swanwick later this year hopefully!
Hope you enjoyed the weekend. Glad to be back to producing stories for YouTube and Friday Flash Fiction.

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Hope you have had a good Tuesday. Many thanks for the views coming in on Lucky Number, my latest YouTube video. It is always great fun putting these together. I adore using the Book Brush tool for videos here and being able to add a music track from YT’s library of free-to-use clips.

I don’t have a lucky number. I don’t believe in such things but characters can and do. How would their belief in a lucky number affect their behaviour? How would other characters respond to their behaviour? Equally what would their belief in an unlucky number cause them to do?

If you set your story in another world, what numbers would that world consider lucky or otherwise? Thirteen, for example, is often considered unlucky because there thirteen people at the Last Supper of Christ, including the traitor, Judas Iscariot. There usually is some reason why numbers have luck associated to them. Could you find interesting stories to tell about that?


Glad to get to my desk to sit and write for a while. Mondays are always horrendously busy for me. Is there a particular day of the week you find challenging? For me it is a relief to get to my desk on any day of the week but especially on Mondays. I find writing so therapeutic and I can feel myself relax as I start).

I don’t know quite what it is but getting into the heads of characters and bringing them to life is just wonderfully relaxing and a challenge. Responding to that challenge gets the old imaginative sparks flying and before I know it I am taken out of myself which I guess is the point! Characters should seem real to you for them to stand any chance of seeming real to a reader.

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Hope you have had a good weekend. Weather better but colder today.

My Chandler’s Ford Today post this week is called Animals in Fiction and I am looking forward to sharing that on Friday. I share some of my childhood favourites here and what I think would be the downsides to writing animal characters. Mind you, this is from someone who wrote a story from the viewpoint of a mother dragon! See below.


Has been a blustery and wet day in soggy Hampshire. Hope things have been better with you (though given the power cut earlier this week I am just thankful to have got in from walking the dog to a nice cosy home!).

Do you find it harder to get your creative juices started at this time of year when it is dark and gloomy (in the UK at least) or does the time of year not matter? I find when I get started, I end up being on a roll. It can be the getting started which is tricky which is why I use a number of ways to help me begin a story. I’ll be talking more about that in my next column for Mom’s Favorite Reads but in the meantime there is always the January issue to enjoy.


Screenshot 2022-01-01 at 17-16-40 Mom’s Favorite Reads eMagazine January 2022 eBook Publishing , Goylake , Howe, Hannah , S[...]

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

I’ll be looking at Animals in Fiction for Chandler’s Ford Today this week. I sometimes have animal characters in my flash fiction but I prefer writing human/humanoid characters. It is easier to give them thoughts and dialogue!

But animals can (and have been used to) represent human behaviour, especially in fables. Many of those would fall within the flash fiction category thanks to their word count. The best fables are kept short. They’re easier to remember this way and especially in the days before print that mattered.

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Pleased to share Lucky Number, which is my latest YouTube story.  See link further up. I used a random number generator to come up with 766, the “lucky” number in this tale. It isn’t usually a number associated with luck, good or otherwise, so why is it considered lucky by my character, Denise? Check out the video – hope you enjoy.
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One of the joys of flash is being able to capture those moments which would not sustain a full standard length short story of 1500 words or more, yet is still a complete tale in and of itself. It means nothing is wasted here.

So if you have a writing exercise jotted down which won’t come to more than 1000 words, why not review it and see if you can turn it into a piece of flash fiction? It doesn’t just have to sit in your notebook!

And given there are more competitions and markets for flash now (especially the indie press), there’s every reason to try and get it published too. Good luck!

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Many thanks for the comments coming in on New Start, my first story of the New Year for Friday Flash Fiction.

Am looking forward to the ACW Flash Group Meeting later on in the month too. That took a break for Christmas and it will be lovely to see everyone again, even if we are in a Zoom box!

When choosing pieces of flash to read out, I usually focus on the 100-worders. They’re to the point and are effective at showing what flash is quickly. If I’m reading at an Open Prose Mic Night, I usually start and finish with a 100-word tale and then have something a little longer in the middle.

Even then I tend to go for the 250-300 words and no more. These stories still have the “oomph” effect of flash but also show you can put in a little more, relevant, detail which adds detail and information that you can’t do in the drabbles.

And it is fun to mix up the word counts I write to – give it a go! There will be markets and competitions for the differing lengths of story.

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Goodreads Author Blog – Why Reviews Matter

Every writer with a book out longs for reviews but they can be difficult to come by. I’ve never really understood why. Reviews don’t have to be long. Indeed the short one or two liners often work better.

And, aside from buying the book itself, leaving a review is one of the best ways you can support authors.

What I like to see in a review (and try to do when I give them) is for the reviewer to give a flavour of what the book is about without giving too much away.

I like to see mention of characters that have grabbed the reviewer’s attention and, in flash and short story collections, which were the “stand out” tales.

Reviews obviously help raise an author’s profile. The author can quote from them on their website, Facebook and social media posts etc. And they really don’t take long to write.

My policy here is to review a book as soon as I have finished reading it. It ensures I don’t forget to do it. Maybe that is where the problem lies. Any thoughts?

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Ideas, Writing Journeys, and Characters Carrying Their Roles

Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Some images created in Book Brush using Pixabay images. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes.
Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.
Has been a hectic couple of days. Hope all okay with you. Looking forward to hearing my festive flash piece broadcast on North Manchester FM later this week.

Screenshot 2021-12-08 at 16-07-14 North Manchester FM Hannah's Bookshelf, Saturday 18 December 2-4pm - Hannah Kate

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Looking forward to sharing my Prep Work post on Chandler’s Ford Today on Friday. Hope it proves to be useful. After that I’ll be sharing a festive flash fiction post and I hope to include a link to Hannah Kate’s Three Minute Santas show on North Manchester FM. Will be a nice way to wind down as we heard towards the end of the year. (If you want to listen live, the show will be broadcast this coming Saturday, 18th December between 2 and 4 pm).

Just heard we won’t be having our Carols by Candlelight services this year – will be much missed, as they were last year – but I am enjoying a good sing along to Christmas favourites when Classic FM play them. Favourite carol: In the Bleak Midwinter (the Holst version). (Naturally the dog likes Bach – sorry couldn’t resist).

Am getting a newsletter together for the beginning of 2022. I share tips, writing prompts, and all kinds of things here so please head over to my website landing page at https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com if you would like to sign up.

Ideas are funny things. Some I can get to work on immediately. I can literally see where the idea is taking me. Other ideas I have to “mull over” for a while before seeing possibilities in them. But that is the way of it and the best ways I have found to encourage ideas are (a) to read widely and (b) get on and write.

Writing in itself I’ve found encourages other ideas. There is some truth in the thought the more you write, the more you will have to write about, but the nice thing about this is it includes all forms of writing.

Writing lots of small pieces as I do encourages me to think about what the next small piece could be and I try to get a momentum going. It’s also why it pays to have a notebook to hand. I come back to the ideas I’ve jotted down at a later date. If they still seem good, I then write them up.

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Hectic day today, Mondays often are for me, though a writing session at the end of my day always makes me feel better. There is something about the creative urge that does just do that for me. If I can’t write (as opposed to choosing not to when I have days off every now and then), well let’s just say I am not a happy bunny. And the nice thing with blogging and flash fiction is when time is tight, as it has been today, I can still write something and feel I’ve achieved something. That matters to me.

Having something already drafted ready for working on later helps me satisfy my creative urge too. If I’m not writing, I am editing and that too is a creative process.

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What has changed along your writing journey compared with how you started out? For me, it is the discovery of the wonderful worlds of flash fiction and blogging, neither of which I knew about when I began writing seriously.

Then there are the technological changes too. The laptop I’m writing this on is far more powerful and smaller than the first computer I used. And then there is the development of things like social media and graphic design programs like Book Brush, which have made it possible to create your own videos and share them on YouTube.

The hardest thing for me to adapt to is getting used to a single space after a full stop. Why? Because I am of the age where it had to be a double space. That harks back to the days when typewriter print wasn’t as clear as it is now so the extra space was needed for clarity. I know! Of all the things to have to get used to! Still Find and Replace is a useful function and Scrivener actually has a Convert Multiple Spaces to Space option. (Found under the Format menu – go to the Convert section and hey presto! This one has helped me a lot!).

I do not miss carbon copies. Cut and paste is so much easier to do in a word processing program too.

Zoom has helped me rediscover the joys of PowerPoint too, very useful for author talks.

Change then can be a good thing and I am grateful I can send in submissions by email rather than have to go and queue in a Post Office to get things weighed (especially at this time of year). There is a lot of time of my life I won’t get back there!

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Hope you have had a good Saturday. Nice to have a quiet one after a fabulous day at the Bridge House Publishing event last week. Finished the Christmas cards so that’s one writing task completed today!

I’ll be discussing the value of prep work in my Chandler’s Ford Today post next Friday. I’m just not the “pantser” type but I will be looking at how a simple structure to my writing week pays dividends for me. And the principle of planning out what you write over the course of a week can be applied no matter what you write.

Ideas for my CFT posts especially will come out of other articles I’ve written. There is truth in the thought the more you write, the more ideas you will generate. I’ve certainly found that to be true for my blogging.

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

I use different ways to get “into” my flash fiction but the key one has to be knowing my character. I don’t need to know everything. I need to know what their major trait is as that will often determine the types of action they could be reasonably expected to do. Equally it will show up what they would not normally do.

A coward, for example, could become brave if and only if they had no other option to ensure their own survival. That should become apparent in the story. In this case, I would also like to know what made my character become a coward. Have they always been like that or is there a story to be told in showing how they got to be that way?

And yes you could have linked flash tales here. One showing what the coward faced to become that way, another could show them how they overcame it even if that was forced on them.

Motivation is a powerful reason for our own behaviour. Our characters should reflect that too. Asking your character “what is your motivation here” will also help you get a clearer picture of what they are like. Appearances, after all, can be deceptive.

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It’s Monday, it has been a hectic day, time to unwind with a story. Hope you enjoy my latest YouTube video, Getting the Mix Right. One lady really fancies the changes when it comes to ingredients for her friend’s recipe…


Pleased to say the December 2021 issue of Moms’ Favorite Reads is now up on Amazon for free. As ever, there is a wonderful wealth of features here. I talk about Festivities for my flash fiction column this time and I loved reading the stories that came in on this theme. Time for a cup of something nice and a good read I think!

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I sometimes start my flash stories knowing I want to write a funny tale, say. It’s then a question of finding a suitable character who would be able to “carry” a funny role. They themselves need not be funny. Often they’re not. Often they don’t find the situation I’ve put them in funny at all.

It is for the readers to judge whether it is funny or not (though if it makes me smile, I think it will make others smile too. I always write with my Ideal Reader in mind. I ask myself what would they see in this story, this character?). It is all about reaching out to potential readers.

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Goodreads Authors Blog – Reading Acrostic

R= Romance
E = Epic Sagas
A = Adventures
D = Detective stories
I = Intergalatic tales
N = Novels, novellas or new flash/short story collections – the choice is yours.
G = Genre Fiction or literary – again the choice is yours.

Plenty of wonderful books to explore -paperback, hardback, audio, ebook.

Happy reading and I do hope there are plenty of book-shaped presents under your Christmas tree this year!


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

Image Credit:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Some images created in Book Brush using Pixabay photos.
Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes, as were the photos of the Theodore Bulldog pub in Charing Cross. Yes, I’ve been out and about again. More to come on that on Friday’s post. Also thanks to Lynn Clement for her author and book cover pictures. Thanks to Adrian Symes for the author pic of yours truly. (I am rubbish at selfies incidentally).
Hope you have had a good weekend/start to the week. Wild weather in Britain right now. Am thankful writing is generally an indoor activity.

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anyway, please be aware, folks.

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

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

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

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

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


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

 

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

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

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

Goodreads Author Blog – Books Acrostic

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

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What Books Mean to Me, Bridge House Publishing, and Random Questions

Image Credit:- 
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Some images created in Book Brush using Pixabay photos. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes, as was the photo of one of my stories from The Best of CafeLit 10. I also took the photo of my books at the Brechin/Angus Book Festival. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.

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Hope you have had a good day. Not so cold today and Lady got to play with her pal, Coco, who is a very lovable Labradoodle.

Looking forward to sharing this week’s Chandler’s Ford Today post. I’ll be writing about the recent Brechin/Angus Book Festival and sharing why events like this matter (and not just to the authors taking part either). Link up on Friday.

Am putting finishing touches to my author newsletter too and that goes out tomorrow, 1st December. Can hardly believe we’re almost at December already. (And I do hope you have a good number of books on your wish list!).

Also, I was delighted to come up with a new idea for a flash fiction story when I was taking part in the Association of Christian Writers’ Flash Fiction group recently. Have written it up, polished it, and submitted it. Now fingers crossed time!

It’s my turn once again on the More than Writers blog for the Association of Christian Writers. This time I talk about What Books Mean to Me and the challenge here was to keep to the 500 words limit!

Mind you, it is a topic every writer could go on about at length. We’re inspired by what we read. The more we read the bigger our “inspiration net” from which to fish. And we’re supporting the industry we want to be part of – win-win there I think.

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Brr… another cold day here. Am grateful for thick clothes, big coat, long scarf, and gloves for walking the dog. Glamorous? Err… no!

I’ll be talking about What Books Mean to Me in my blog for the Association of Christian Writers tomorrow. See link above. The challenge there was keeping that topic to 500 words! You can see how I did tomorrow when I put the link up.

Pleased to see more comments coming in on Moving Along, my latest story on Friday Flash Fiction.

Am working on material for another Zoom talk in February and I’m almost there with material for my third flash fiction collection. It will need robust editing before I submit it but I am hoping to get that off by the spring of next year, earlier if possible. I am happy with the material in and of itself but I know thorough editing will sharpen what’s there and I enjoy that process.

But it is also a relief to know I’ve got the book “down”, the stories are a good mix, and editing will improve them still further. What’s not to like there? Do I wish it was a quicker process? Sometimes. But I know I need a decent break between writing the stories and then going back and editing them. Taking the time there has helped me enormously in the past to see more clearly what is working and what doesn’t. It then gives me my best chance of submitting the best I can to a publisher.

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

Hope everyone is okay. Very stormy conditions in the UK today. Hampshire saw snow, sleet, rain, bitter cold, and strong winds for a lot of Saturday. Even Lady wasn’t that impressed. She isn’t usually fazed by the weather.

Am busy getting my author newsletter ready for sending out on 1st December. I share tips, prompts, video links and all sorts here. Head over to my landing page at https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com if this sounds of interest.

I’ll be talking about the recent Brechin/Angus Book Festival for my Chandler’s Ford Today post this week. Many thanks once again to Lynn Clement for the recent two-part interview. It is always a joy to interview other writers for CFT as I always learn something interesting/useful to know (and often both).

The great thing with creative writing is that it is an ongoing process to find out what it is you like to write and then to try and get better at it. Good for the old imagination and the brain as a whole. And then there are all those competitions and markets to still try and crack… no excuse for becoming bored then!

Screenshot 2021-11-30 at 20-37-37 The Appeal of AnthologiesCreative writing is a joy

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Am looking forward to the Bridge House Publishing celebration event on Saturday. It will be nice meeting up with Lynn Clement again, whose The City of Stories, has recently been published by Chapeltown Books. I recently interviewed Lynn to discuss flash fiction for Chandler’s Ford Today.

Flash is a wonderful format for sharing on social media. For something to entertain without taking up too much of anyone’s time, it can’t be beaten. And it is easy to share at in-person events too. In the busyness of life, it is great to take time out for a very quick read indeed!

I’ve found it pays me to just get the story written and worry about the editing and word count later. Some flash pieces genuinely do work better at 250 words rather than 100 words, for example. It is only by getting the whole story down and giving myself breathing space to look at it properly later, I can see that yes, this needs to be kept in and that doesn’t.

Over time, you do develop an instinct for what will work better at a slightly longer word count and I’ve learned to trust that instinct when it kicks in.

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Back to my normal slot for story time. Hope you enjoy Going On. This one came about as a result of a question from a random question generator (what can you talk about for hours?). I’ve used the same question as the basis for my story for Friday Flash Fiction this week too. Good fun to do.


Am glad to report there’s a special offer on the paperback of Tripping the Flash Fantastic on Amazon right now. See link below. And a big thank you to those who have picked up the Kindle version recently too. Much appreciated (and if you have time to leave a review, even better).

I’ve mentioned before I’m often using Sundays to produce new stories for YouTube and Friday Flash Fiction respectively and I often use the random generators to trigger my ideas here.

Having a quick look at a random question generator, the question that cropped up was “what can you talk about for hours”? I don’t know yet if I will use that for my stories tonight but the thought struck me it would be a good question to ask your characters as you outline them. You are sure to find out more about what makes them tick by getting “them” to answer that. It should highlight some of their overall attitudes to life too.

For example, if the answer is “military history”, say, you could then dig deeper to find out why your character is fascinated by that. What does that reveal about them? Could an opponent use this against them in some way? And there’s your story outline as you think about the answers to those questions. Using one question to trigger others works for story outlining.

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I often write festive flash fiction. My last Chandler’s Ford Today post of the year usually features some. And I have just written a piece and submitted it on a festive theme. Will report back it if it gets taken. I often share a festive dribble (50 words) or drabble (100) words on my Facebook pages too. (The 50 word ones also work well on Twitter).

I see it as a nice way to wrap up the old year and hopefully the tales will raise a smile or two. Naturally I keep the theme for thee stories light. I do avoid any kind of whimsy though. Even tales featuring Santa will have a bit of a bite to them (albeit a nice bite!).

And when I do write a fairytale kind of story, again apt for the rapidly approaching season, there will be a twist or a sense of irony in the story somewhere. Fairytales were never meant to be twee. I think stories with humour are often the best for getting any kind of message across anyway. It helps to make it palatable.

But what I want most for my festive fiction is for there to be a sense of fun about them. I certainly have fun writing them and I hope that comes across.

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Goodreads Author Blog – The Appeal of Anthologies

Naturally I am a bit biased here as I’m honoured to have several of my stories appear in various anthologies over the years. It’s a pleasure to write short stories for these and even more of a pleasure when said tales are accepted.

But, regardless of that, I have always had a soft spot for anthologies. Why? I like to see them as a reading “mixed assortment”. Who ever said that just worked for biscuits or chocolates?! It works for books too!

What I get most from anthologies is the wonderful range of talent on offer. I get to read authors I might not have come across otherwise and, when the anthology is to a set theme, it is fascinating to see how so many different writers bring their own take to that topic.

I deliberately read anthologies, including flash fiction ones, between novels. They do act almost like a “starter meal” for my next longer read. Indeed, if I’m not sure which novel to read next, by the time I’ve come to the end of an anthology, I know which mood (and therefore genre) of novel I want to read next.

So do check the anthologies out. (They’re also useful for seeing if you like the work of an author new to you. If you like their short work, it is highly likely you will like their longer books).

And happy reading – short and long form!

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Stories, Editing, and a Press Appearance

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

Creative writing is a joy

Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

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

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

Introducing Lynn Clement – Part 2 – The Editing

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

Success for Brechin/Angus Book Festival event

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

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

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

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

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

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

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


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

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

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

 

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


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

Fairytales With Bite – Magical Livelihoods

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

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

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

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

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

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This World and Others – Employment Issues

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

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

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

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

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Book Events, Videos, and Inspiration

Image Credit:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Some images created in Book Brush using Pixabay photos. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.
Brechin/Angus Festival related images created by Sarah Archibald. All screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes, as were the photos of my copies of The Best of CafeLit 10 and the extract from my story in that. Photos of me reading at the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School Open Prose Mic Night were taken by Geoff Parkes and Fiona Parks. (Great job done too, guys, thank you!).
Hope you have had a good week so far. Am busy getting ready for the Brechin/Angus Book Festival. Will write more about that in due course, especially for Chandler’s Ford Today. Looking forward to catching up with writer friends here too (and making new ones!).

Brechin Poster

Facebook – General

Hope you have had a good Tuesday. I’ll be packing tomorrow for my trip northwards to the Brechin/Angus Book Festival. Now apologies are due from yours truly. I forgot to share my latest YouTube video yesterday so am making up for that now. Hope you enjoy this one – Rocket.


Many thanks to the good folks behind Christmas Book Hub for featuring my Tripping The Flash Fantastic today. (15th November 2021 – see screenshot below). Much appreciated especially the link

Am away from Thursday for the Brechin/Angus Book Festival. I will be posting but at different times. I look forward to reporting back (via Chandler’s Ford Today in particular) about how the Festival went.

TTFF on Christmas Book Hub 2021

Not a bad weekend. Just asked Amazon Author Central to include Resolutions: An Anthology, the latest book from Bridge House Publishing, to my page. I’m one of the contributing authors with my story Next Time, Maybe. For all of the anthologies I’m in I have to ask Amazon to add it to my page and they usually do so within a day or two.

I take the opportunity while doing this kind of thing to ask the Authors Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS) to add the book to my list with them. Why? Because I can earn some money from ALCS for all the books I either write or contribute to which are listed with them. (Can’t do ebooks as ALCS need an ISBN rather than an ASIN) but, as a certain supermarket would say, every little bit helps. It is always good to get more books added to the list!

Resolutions 3D

Hope you have had a good day. Glad to see the comments are still coming in for The Gift, my latest story on Friday Flash Fiction. Thanks, everyone.

So looking forward to the Brechin/Angus Book Festival next week. I’m going up on the Thursday and hope to report back on the Festival for Chandler’s Ford Today later in November. It will be great catching up with writer friends at this Festival too. (And do bear in mind that book events are great places to start your Christmas shopping. Just saying and all that…!).

I plan to do plenty of writing on the train up to Scotland – flash fiction, blogs etc. The great thing with doing this is I know I will use all of what I draft even if I don’t do so immediately. And I find that the act of writing in itself can trigger other ideas to explore. There is truth in the saying the more you write, the more ideas you will have. It is as if you need to get started and then a creative spark kicks in and before you know it other ideas have occurred to you (which you jot down immediately to avoid forgetting them again).

Screenshot 2021-11-12 at 16-51-35 The Gift, by Allison Symes

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Just a quick reminder that I often post flash fiction videos over on my YouTube channel. You can check it out at the link below. Latest story up is called Rocket. (Sorry meant to share this yesterday but forgot). Anyway hope you enjoy the videos. My sympathy on Rocket is definitely with the recipient here. See what you think.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCPCiePD4p_vWp4bz2d80SJA

 

Screenshot 2021-11-16 at 20-25-46 Allison Symes

A quick heads up for my Chandler’s Ford Today post this week. I am going to be discussing flash fiction with a fellow writer, Lynn Clement, in the first half of a two part interview. There is a lovely story behind how Lynn and I met and how we crossed paths again professionally recently. Lynn also has a splendid new book out called The City of Stories (published by Chapeltown Books). I look forward to sharing the link on Friday.

As I am away at the Brechin/Angus Book Festival from 18th to 22nd November, my postings will be at different times to my usual ones but thank goodness for Evernote, a smart phone, and a WIFI connection! They make postings possible! (I have to laugh at myself a bit here as I held out against a smart phone for ages. Can’t imagine my life without one now!).

 

Inspiration for my flash tales comes from all sorts of things – proverbs and phrases as I’ve mentioned before, but also personal tastes. In my Taking Time Out From the Day Job in The Best of CafeLit 10, my character’s secret sin is revealed to be chocolate bars, in particular Dairy Milk. Hmm… I didn’t have to look far for inspiration for that idea!

So you can take bits and pieces you like and loathe (either work) and see why your characters have these likings and loathings. Where a liking would not usually be a problem, put your character in a situation where it becomes one and see how they manage it. Good potential for comedy there. And what if a loathing for say travelling stops your character making progress in their career yet they want to advance in what they do and have to find a way around their travel phobia? What would they do? Again good story potential here.

CafeLit10 3D

 

One thing I’m looking forward to doing at the Brechin/Angus Book Festival I’m taking part in next week is reading out some of my flash fiction. It is a great way to both demonstrate what flash is and entertain your audience. Flash has the benefit too of its restricted word count – you can’t go on for too long! Everyone likes that!

I’m running a workshop on flash fiction and giving a separate author talk on The Ups and Downs of Becoming an Author. This topic is especially apt as I discovered flash fiction by accident but it is definitely one of the “ups”!

Goodreads Author Blog – All The Fun of the Book Event

Next week, I will be at the Brechin/Angus Book Festival where I will be running a workshop on flash fiction and giving an author talk on The Ups and Downs of Becoming An Author. Very much looking forward to this.

I always enjoy spreading the word about my genre, flash fiction, and it is my great hope that, as a format, it might be useful in drawing in the reluctant reader given I’m not asking them to commit to too much in one go. Once you have someone reading, who knows where that will take them?

Book events are great fun because there is a lot of camaraderie between the authors taking part, hopefully you sell books, and the event in and of itself is a celebration I think of the written word. That is always a good thing. And, especially at this time of year, they make great places to begin your Christmas shopping! Well, there must be someone you know who’d appreciate a good book!

Why not pop across to your next book event and see if you can tick some more items off your present shopping list?

Of course, I will get to see what other books are available at the event. What are the chances of me coming home again without having added to my To Be Read list?

That’s right – none whatsoever! (And I think that is the way it should be too).

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Coming Home, Consequences, and Getting Ready for Brechin

Image Credit:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Some images created in Book Brush using Pixabay photos.
Scottish photos taken by me, Allison Symes. Screenshots also taken by me (though a huge thanks goes to Sarah Archibald for the Brechin/Angus Book Festival poster).
Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.

Facebook – General

Hope you have had a good day. Today was marginally less hectic than yesterday. Am hoping Wednesday will be better still!

I issued my November newsletter a little early (as it was easier for me to send it out before I went on holiday). If you would like to sign up for a monthly round-up on news, tips, prompts etc., do head over to my website (landing page) at https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com

Was good to get back to submitting work to #FridayFlashFiction on my return too. Am loving reading the other stories on here too.

Will be a busy period on Chandler’s Ford Today for a while too. As well as my forthcoming Chameleons review, I have a smashing interview coming up with an author I met as a result of my being a guest speaker at the Hampshire Writers Society (it really is a small world), and of course I will be reporting back from the Brechin/Angus Book Festival. I’m also looking forward to reporting back on the Bridge House Publishing event in December.

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Why is it Mondays are always the most hectic day of the week? Still, it was lovely to see Lady have an absolute ball this morning playing with her best buddy, the Rhodesian Ridgeback, and her other pal, a charming Hungarian Vizler. The latter, I swear, has the sweetest smile in the park and is always so pleased to see us! Both dogs also make their appreciation of being able to share Lady’s water bottle known as they have their own ways of saying thanks!

I’ll be reviewing Murder with Ghosts, the most recent production staged by The Chameleon Theatre Group for Chandler’s Ford Today this week. Some of my favourite influences make themselves apparent in this play. More on this when I share the link on Friday. And if you think the title sounds fun, you’re right!

Sent off my box of books for the Brechin/Angus Book Festival today. It’s always difficult to estimate how many books you will need for events like this but I was pleased to get my parcel off on its way.

And talking of books, I hope to share further publication news soon.

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It is true what they say about needing a holiday to get over your holiday! Having said that, it is lovely to be back at home after a lovely break away.

Am delighted to say the November issue of Mom’s Favorite Reads is now out. See link below. My article is about Memories, appropriate for November of course, and there are splendid flash pieces in as a result of my theme. Do check them out and I hope you find the article inspiring. What role could your character’s memories have in their stories? What happens if memories “clash”? Perspectives differ after all. Plenty of food for thought for stories there.

I’m also pleased to be the featured author on Page 50 of the magazine. And remember it is FREE.

The journey home acts like a grand tour of Scotland. It is fascinating to see the landscape change from mountains and rivers to farmland to lowland. In previous years, when we’ve been here in late May, there has still been snow on the mountains.

As ever, Lady didn’t really want to go home. She loves it on the beaches here but she will adore seeing her friends again next week.

I shall be finishing my prep work for the Brechin/Angus Book Fest this week and resume flash fiction writing so plenty to look forward to there.

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

One of the reasons I love the 100-word story is the fact you don’t have to wait long for the pay-off! I also enjoy the challenge of having to keep coming up with characters and story lines. And stories like this are easy to share on social media and I think make a great advert for what flash fiction is and can be.

Flash as a whole has sharpened my writing considerably and I find myself asking where is the story in this character I’m thinking of writing up. That’s a good thing. Knowing where the story is helps a lot later on too when you need to tell people what your tale is about. You will definitely know and you do need to be specific. What you don’t want is the glazed expression on the face of your audience as you try to tell them!

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Pleased to be back creating YouTube videos once more. Hope you enjoy Consequences. It was great fun to write though I have muted sympathy for my character here.

Good to be back home again after a wonderful Scottish break. (Particularly pleased to be home as weather conditions yesterday were horrendous and I hope everyone is okay). Looking forward to being back in Scotland next week too! Have had the delightful task of boxing up books ready for the Brechin/Angus Book Festival, which will be from 19th to 21st November. I plan to write up a report on the Festival for Chandler’s Ford Today after I get home again (and hope my current post there on Making the Most of an Author Event proves useful).

One lovely thing about events is I can often get to demonstrate what flash is by reading some out. It doesn’t take long and it can lead to sales! Am also looking forward to running a flash workshop and giving an author talk about The Ups and Downs of Becoming an Author as my route to the writing life has had its fair share of cul-de-sacs! Nor did I expect to end up being published in flash fiction. I do not regret this however!

Also pleased to be the featured author in the November issue of Mom’s Favorite ReadsAmazon Link for this further up.

And I hope to share further publication news later this week too. It’s all go right now but that is good! (Also can’t wait for the Bridge House Publishing celebration event on 4th December in London. So looking forward to catching up with writing friends there. We last met up in person in December 2019 though Zoom has been a lifeline – and a great way to share the wonders of flash fiction writing!).

Every story has to have a turning point. In flash, of course, you reach that point a lot sooner. That in turn makes you focus on what leads to that point.

It is why twist in the tale stories work so well in flash and why I often write that line first before working backwards to reach a logical beginning.

But there is nothing to stop you having that turning point right at the start of your tale. When I do this I have already sketched out various ways in which I could take that promising start. The one that has the most impact (by having an equally intriguing middle and satisfying ending) is what I go with. It pays to take time out to work out different possibilities. Best of all it’s fun too!

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Goodreads Author Blog – Mixing Up Your Reading

I like to mix up my reading in different ways.
Firstly, I mix up fiction and non-fiction.
Secondly, I mix up reading novels and short stories/flash fiction anthologies.
Thirdly, I mix up reading in paperback/on Kindle.
Fourthly, I watch stories (via film) and listen to them (via radio, audio books).
But the important thing is getting the reading in and doing so regularly. What I love to read directly inspires what I write.

Online retailBooks are books regardless of format

books signage

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people reading books in library

Photo by BERK OZDEMIR on Pexels.com

assorted books

Photo by Tuur Tisseghem on Pexels.com

opened book on tree root

Photo by rikka ameboshi on Pexels.com

BookBrushImage-2021-9-17-20-3426AE - July 2021 - Great characters will keep you turning the pages

Learning, Back at an ACW Event, and North Manchester FM

Image Credit:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated (and most created via Book Brush using Pixabay photos). Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots were taken by me, Allison Symes.
Hope you have had a good start to the working week. Lovely autumnal weather here in the UK right now – just the kind the dog and I like most.

Facebook – General

Enjoying the lovely autumnal weather at the moment – dry, sunny, crisp – my kind of weather at this time of year.

Writers are often advised (and I’ve done it too) to read widely as sparks for story and article ideas will often crop up from what you enjoy reading. But I was at a fascinating Zoom talk last night about Cistercian Abbeys. Not something I write about. Nor am I likely to do so but the talk was interesting and revealed plenty I did not know especially about life in a community.

Now I can see I might get something from that for a story or two later on. Fabulous if I do. Still improving my knowledge even if not. Win-win basically. So why not try a Zoom or other kind of talk on a topic that might be a little outside of your own box but where you have some underlying interest? (In my case, I love history).

I’ve talked before about mixing up how you approach story writing to keep things (a) fresh and interesting for you and (b) to encourage lateral thinking and even more creativity. Why not use talks as another way into that mixing up your approach?

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Hope you had a good Monday. Not bad here. Nice autumnal day, plenty of sunshine, and Lady got to play with her Rhodesian Ridgeback buddy and her Labradoodle pal. All is well in her world at least!

Coming back to earth after a wonderful ACW event on Saturday but I find I always do need a bit of a breathing space after an event like that to take stock and then get on with my writing again.

Many thanks for the lovely comments so far on my Leaving It Late, which is my most recent tale on #FridayFlashFiction. Am so loving writing the drabbles again – and this particular tale shows just how far one character can take stubbornness.

Screenshot 2021-10-08 at 16-41-23 Leaving It Late, by Allison Symes

It was lovely getting back to using Evernote properly on my train trips to/from London for the Association of Christian Writers day yesterday. I’ll be out and about on the train again next month when I go to the Brechin/Angus Book Fest and again in December because Bridge House Publishing are having their annual celebration event, hooray!

Mind you, some things don’t change over the years. I always used to become irritated when bad radio reception would hit right during the middle of my favourite song. These days my irritation is aimed at when the internet connection drops out just as I’m trying to post something (and you don’t always know when a tunnel is coming up!).

It was fantastic catching up with so many friends yesterday and I look forward to catching up with more over the next couple of months. I also managed to draft a flash piece yesterday which I’m going to use for my YouTube video this week. Hope to share the link for that tomorrow over on my book page at From Light to Dark and Back Again. See further down.

Oh and it has been lovely listening to Gill James being interviewed by Hannah Kate on North Manchester FM. Plenty of plugs for Bridge House, Chapeltown, CafeLit etc (and a couple for me too – thank you, Gill and Hannah). Give it a listen and discover insights into how a small independent publisher works.

Gill James Interview Here
Screenshot 2021-10-12 at 20-56-33 North Manchester FM Hannah's Bookshelf, Saturday 9 October, 2-4pm - Hannah Kate

Am on way to my first in-person event for the Association of Christian Writers today. Event is being held in London. I am so looking forward to catching up with friends I’ve either not seen or only seen through Zoom for the past two years. Am drafting this via Evernote on train up. Will probably post on train home.

As well as what you learn from the speaker(s), you pick up loads of tips, sites to check out etc., when chatting with other writers over a cuppa or several. You also sense a creative buzz at the event which you can draw on to inspire you when you’re back home again.

So it will be a tiring, inspirational, and fantastic trip out. ACW are also celebrating the launch of Write Well! This will be launched during the latter half of today’s event. The book is written by various ACW members about aspects of writing and I am looking forward to reading it.

The lovely thing with writing is you don’t stop learning or developing what you do. This is so good for the old brain!

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Giving your character an immediate problem they have to resolve is a great way to get into a story. Your reader has to read on to find out what happens, which is exactly what you want. But you can also add intrigue by hinting at an unusual setting for the problem.

I did this with my Decisions from Tripping the Flash Fantastic. My opening line to this is “He could watch the world end or jump on the alien spacecraft that encouraged visitors.”.

Well, firstly, what would you do if you faced that? Whatever you decide, hopefully the hook is there for you to want to find out what my character did. Secondly, I’ve managed to give you the genre in four words – world end and alien spacecraft. This confirms the genre has to be sci-fi and this is an apocalyptic tale.

The setting is here on Earth – that is confirmed by my character’s name (Jeff). So little things like this give your readers plenty of information to take in and you don’t info-dump on them either. That was something I did use to do when I first started out. Great big blocks of description and/or “have to tell the reader this so I will give it to them all in one go right here and now”. Uhh… no!

Drip-feeding information is better by far, more interesting, and helps keep your word count down, invaluable for flash of course.

Pleased to share my latest YouTube story, The Package. Who do you feel the most for here? Comments welcome here on over on my channel page. Hope you enjoy the tale.

 

Nice to have a quieter day after a wonderful day in London yesterday with the Association of Christian Writers. Will be returning to the capital in December for a Bridge House Publishing celebration event – can’t wait for that. Have been in contact with people over Facebook and Zoom, of course, but it will be so nice to get together in person again.

I’ll be sharing tomorrow my latest YouTube video which was inspired by a snippet of conversation I overheard on the train yesterday! Good fun to write and I look forward to sharing the story. (I say overhear, it was more a case of not being able to miss the conversation, but it can all be useful material for sparking off story ideas!).

 

Am back on the train for an Association of Christian Writers event so am resuming using Evernote for jotting down blog posts and flash fiction pieces. It’s lovely getting to use the app again after a long gap. I used it for the first time since lockdown for my trip to the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School back in August but with today’s event, it feels like it’s going to be a regular thing again. And that’s nice.

I will often use train writing sessions to brainstorm ideas for titles and/or opening lines. Course it’s a great chance to people watch again! Have just heard someone saying they had to go to their old house to pick up a delivery they sent to their old place by mistake and the person now living there was a “really old lady”. I suspect they mean someone of my age – fifties!! But could I get a story from that?

Oh yes! Firstly, the old lady could be something not of this world and my character has no idea what to do when they discover this. Far from getting one over on an old lady, she is the one turning tables here. Secondly, I could do something with the delivery itself. What is it? Why does my character need it? What would happen if the old lady opens it as it came to her house?

So will be keeping ears and eyes open for this trip ready to jot down ideas!  See YouTube video above – I did do something with this!

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Goodreads Author Blog – New Books

One lovely thing about going to events, as I’ve done this week, is exploring the book stalls and bringing home a new book or several! (Naturally I hope to sell some of mine too!).

It is great being able to go to events again. I missed this so much in 2020. And I know I will be picking up a very good read indeed when I go to the book stalls.

I’ve yet to go back to bookshops again but that will only be a matter of time! I may get to do so as part of my travels as there is a Foyles bookshop at London Waterloo. I think a lot will depend on how much I spend at the book stalls first!

The downside is every time I pick up new books like this, it reminds me I should sort my bookshelves out! I guess into every reader’s and writer’s life a little rain must fall!

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Facebook, Flash Fiction, and Foreshadowing

Image Credit:
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated.
Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.
Hope you have had a good few days. Managed to work in some alliteration for this post (but have no plans to work my way through the alphabet!).

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Facebook – General

4th and 5th October
Given Facebook was down for a lot of 4th October (UK), I thought I would just share one extended post today covering 4th and 5th. Am glad all is now back up and running properly though.

4th October
Hope you have had a good day. Lady got to play her best buddie, the Rhodesian Ridgeback, today. Their other pal, Coco, a lovely Labradoodle, also turned up so it ended up being a real “puppy party”. A lovely time was had by all but you don’t want to get in the way when the dogs are running! It was nicely timed too as it poured down for most of the afternoon.

As I prepare this post, Facebook is down so I have no idea when I’ll be posting this. Hope everything is sorted out soon.

Also glad to say the October issue of Mom’s Favorite Reads is now out. I talk about light and dark for my flash fiction column this time and there are some wonderful stories in on the theme. Do check it out. (Also glad to see my two flash collections are in under the section of books by MFR Authors – and there’s a whole range here so if you’re looking for somewhere to start to check new books out, do try here!).

 

5th October
I guess outages such as the one that happened to Facebook etc yesterday remind us of how dependent we can be on these things. I do like the social aspect to social media. I don’t like the negative sides which turn up but where social media is at its best is where it can encourage, share good news stories, and yes help with writing tips and advice and that kind of thing. Anything which helps encourage creativity basically.

And I do like Facebook and Twitter as both can be useful for sharing flash fiction stories. Twitter is a great place for me to share my Youtube videos as I don’t tend to put much commentary with these. Far better to let the video speak for itself! But I suppose one thing to come from last night is it probably pays to have two social media platforms you are comfortable with using. Okay, there is nothing you can do when both are hit by an event but where, in a lot of cases, it is only one that has been “taken out”, you can at least still use the other.

 

Well, at least the weather was better today! We all seemed to spend most of last night drying out, dog included.

Looking forward to going to the Association of Christian Writers’ writing event on Saturday. So that will be two trips on the train within three months! (And I’ve already saved what I paid out on my railcard for the two trips had so far – the other one was for Swanwick of course).

I hope to write about the benefits of one day events for Chandler’s Ford Today in due course. Watch this space as they say. (This week’s post will be the use of sayings in creative writing. I’ve had several stories published which either use a well known saying as a title or a theme or sometimes both).

 

All of us were soaked to the skin at differing points today, including the dog, though she fluffs up beautifully when she dries out! Not a good day in Hampshire, that’s for sure.

Delighted to see lovely comments coming in for my Trying Hard on #FridayFlashFiction. Will Sarah finally make things up to her neighbour? Follow the link to find out. It is great fun writing these drabbles again. The 100-worders were how I discovered flash fiction thanks to CafeLit issuing their 100-word challenge.

Looking forward to sharing my next Chandler’s Ford Today post too. I’ll be looking at sayings and their use in creative writing. This is a topic I should’ve written about before really as I use sayings a fair bit for my flash fiction work. Link to come on Friday.

Screenshot 2021-10-01 at 18-59-48 Trying Hard, by Allison Symes

Using sayings can boost your creativity

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

4th and 5th October
Given the Facebook outage on 4th October (UK), I thought I’d share two posts in one here for 4th and 5th October respectively.

4th October
Facebook is out as I write this so will post as soon as I can. Am glad to share my latest YouTube short story video. Hope you enjoy this one – Satisfying. Does Miskrelda come out tops in the village magical championships or does the old witch still have plenty of tricks to play?

5th October
It does feel unnerving to be offline when you don’t want to be! Glad everything now up and running again on Facebook etc. I know there can be down sides to social media but there are up sides too, especially bringing people together and hopefully sharing a little entertainment too. Hope you enjoy my latest story video, Satisfying.

Flash fiction works well on social media given its limited word count, of course. And sharing stories like this I hope will draw people into my website (https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com) to find out more what I do writing wise and where. Social media is meant to be sociable after all. And sharing stories and books and that kind of thing is one of the most lovely social activities there is. As well as being a writer I am of course a reader and love it when authors share extracts and a little about their writing process. I always learn from this – and it is fun to read.

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Can foreshadowing happen in a tight word count as is the requirement for flash fiction? Oh yes. I tend to plant “clues” in the opening line or two so that by the end of the story (often a paragraph or two later), a reader can see how that “clue” mattered. Sometimes foreshadowing can be done by a word or two.

In my Vegetables are Good For You, I use the words “garlic” and “Transylvanian” in the first line. If you’re wondering if vampires come into this somewhere, you’re going to have to read the story to find out (!) but I’ve definitely foreshadowed something here!

As is so often the case for the very short form of fiction, it is a question of picking out the right detail you need a reader to know. You can then work out how to foreshadow this. It is a case of setting things up nicely and ensures your readers don’t feel cheated.

(And it is even more fun when you can foreshadow but still put in a twist at the end, I love doing that. Readers might guess where you’re heading but can’t know until they read the story and you can still surprise them. But when they look back at the story again, they should then see the foreshadowing given does lead logically to the point where you’ve taken them at the end).

 

Characters learning from their mistakes and going on to do better makes a great theme for stories. I’ve used it for flash tales – Judgement Day and The Past – Ready or Not? from Tripping the Flash Fantastic to name a couple. I tend to show the mistake early on and the rest of the story shows how the character has moved on. And change is what all stories are about.

We read to find out what happens so something must happen! A character who doesn’t learn will only make the same mistakes (and worse) and these can be frustrating to read about. You want to scream at the character “come on, learn from this” so I try to ensure nobody can say that about the characters I come up with.

 

Goodreads Author Blog – Books on Your Wish List

Do you have a Book Wish List? I have two a year – one for the period leading up to my birthday and the other leading up to Christmas. Family and friends of book lovers should appreciate us really. We are so easy to buy for. Just follow our list(s)!

I try to get a list together for Christmas in November. That’s early enough. I’ve got some thoughts already for books I’d like to be on that list – not that I am surprised by this. I tend to make a mental note throughout the year of “possibles”! (I also refuse to believe I’m the only one who does that). And I like an annual, yes even at my age. (The Friendship Book before you ask).

Ebooks I tend to buy as I want them (and I do use this format for trying out authors new to me). Audio books are something I tend to give as presents to others.

But however you like your books, I hope you have plenty of them on your Wish List. And, best of all, books are so easy to wrap. Okay, you can’t hide what they are (not unless you really go overboard with the wrapping) but seeing a book-shaped present under the Christmas tree is always a great joy for me and has been for more years than I care to recall.

Now, hands up time. I buy books for others. Who has a quick peek before wrapping said gifts up, ensuring that the recipient would never guess of course? Yes, me too, and it usually leads me to adding another book or several to my own Wish List!

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Triggers and Descriptions

Image Credit:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Some images created in Book Brush using Pixabay photos.
Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Image of me signing at the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School was kindly taken by Fiona Park while the photo of Lady and I examining my books was taken by Adrian Symes. I took the photo of my two flash collections for sale at Swanwick in August 2021.
Hope you have had a good few days. Writing going well. Weather less so right now!

Facebook – General

I swear it was almost time to call Noah out again given the amount of rain that has fallen in my part of Hampshire today! Hope it is not too bad where you are.

Have booked my train tickets for the Brechin/Angus Book Festival in November. I always get tickets posted so hopefully these will be with me in a few days.

Have got my train tickets for the first Association of Christian Writers in-person to be held since before lockdown – that will be on 9th October. Looking forward to that and seeing everyone again. I will make use of my railcard this year! (And it will be nice to hopefully sell a few books in person again too!).

My lovely editor at Chandler’s Ford Today and I are planning to be at the next production by The Chameleon Theatre Group in October (which will be Murder With Ghosts – sounds fun!). Definitely time for another CFT “works outing” I feel. Not the same when I go on my own!

Hope you have had a good Monday. Was pleased to get a significant amount of editing done over the weekend on what I hope will end up being my third flash fiction collection. And I managed to draft some future blogs so those will come in handy in due course.

Am enjoying the new series of Just a Minute. It is odd not having Nicholas Parsons in the chair but Sue Perkins is doing a grand job. One of the reasons I love this show is there is some wonderful word play and I always have a lot of time for that! It also shows how difficult it is not to repeat. Every word has to count – and I guess that would always prove popular with a flash fiction writer.

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Many thanks for the comments coming in on An Undesirable Property, my latest story on #FridayFlashFiction. Much appreciated. Am currently working on another story for this week’s submission and hope to get that polished and sent off later this evening.

I’ll be looking at Pinch, Punch, The First of the Month as my topic for Chandler’s Ford Today this week given Friday will be 1st October. I’ll also look at how we can use sayings in our fiction and non-fiction. I’ve used several sayings as titles and/or themes for my flash fiction stories, for example. So don’t throw out your books of proverbs and well known sayings. Mine them for ideas!

Talking of the first of the month, my author newsletter will go out on Friday as well. I share tips, news, writing prompts, and stories here. If you’d like to sign up head over to my website (landing page).

 

Hope you have had a good Saturday. Nice to catch up with friends and family today. Lady loved seeing everyone. She loves people (and the food they drop of course). Autumn evenings drawing in – getting dark here before 8 pm.

I don’t use a lot of description, mainly because in flash room for this is limited. What I look for is the telling detail, something that will show a reader setting, character age/class (often done via the name I give them – names can date people – mine does as I mentioned the other day), or story mood.

It is a case of working out what a reader has to know and what can be left for them to pick up on inference/context. I ask myself when editing a story, does the tale make sense without it? Does the tale lose anything if I take this out?

I am more interested in character than description anyway. I want to know what a character is like. Finding out where they live is, for me, something I will pick up as I keep reading. What I don’t want is to be switched off by long descriptions.

I want the dialogue, the character’s thoughts etc and description slipped in every now and then. I will “assimilate” that. I don’t want a great big block of description (and I am wary that kind of thing is likely to switch a lot of readers off. They want to know what is happening as opposed to what something looks like).

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Triggers for story ideas can come from anywhere – and at unexpected times. (Not always convenient times either). I’ve never used the keep a notebook and pen by your bed so if you wake up with a great idea you can jot it down quickly. Why? Because when I’m asleep, that is it.

I don’t tend to dream story ideas. They come to me as I’m getting on with other things, which is fine if I can pause to jot things down, but that is not always possible. I have had odd ideas come to me when in the shower, when I’ve just parked, when on the loo etc. What I will do here is grab my phone and use Evernote to jot things down as quickly as I can after the idea has occurred. Best endeavours and all that).

But I worry less now about “missing an idea” because I know now in a way I didn’t when starting out that ideas will crop up. It’s not as if you have one “go” at getting ideas, far from it.

The best trigger I know and often make use of is to ask the old “what if” question? For Being Yourself in Tripping the Flash Fantastic, I knew my character was going to be accused by a love rival of being cold. So I asked myself what if my character could become cold? What would that make her capable of and how could she use this against her rival?

And random generators can be a good way of triggering words to put into a story. I’ve done this recently and I came up with promising words and then asked the what if question. That showed me how to use this words well and two of my more recent videos on my YouTube channel came about because I did this.

 


Delighted to share my latest YouTube video called Housework. Even dragons tidy up when they have a strong enough motivation to do so. Hope you enjoy.

F = Fun to Write – and you can write across genres too.
L = Less is More – what are the telling details your reader must know?
A = Always axe anything that does not move your story along in some way.
S = Story, story, story. What happens? How does your character change? What is the important thing we need to know about your character in this tale?
H = Has an upper limit of 1000 words but you can write across the spectrum. There are different categories including the dribble (50 words) and drabble (100 words – and my favourite). You can pack a lot into a tiny tale whether or not you go to the upper word limit.

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I was talking over on my author page about not wanting a lot of description. There isn’t room for it in flash anyway. I chatted about telling details and working out what a reader has to know. Some examples from my published stories include:-

Making the Grade – one word, “magical” ahead of the word “exams” shows my reader the character is not in any ordinary school and they have talents we do not.

Pen Portrait – “brushed her hair once a day” shows you my character, whatever else she is, isn’t vain.

It Has to be Me – the words “you break customs at your peril” shows you my character lives in a repressive world.

There is an indication of setting in two of these as well.

Also, given we live in a TV and film era, the days of long descriptions are behind us, I think. Someone like Dickens had to spell out what London looked like for readers who would probably never go there. We, on the other hand, can take shortcuts here as we can set a story in London and most people will have their own ideas as to what that looks like.

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Goodreads Author Blog – Book Shopping

Book shopping is an absolute pleasure, of course, and I like to mix up how I do this. I do shop online but mix up the retailers I use (and I like to also support those who support independent bookshops. I have used You Know Who and I have found them helpful with out of print books in the past. I also believe in not putting all my eggs in one basket here but that goes for You Know Who as well as the other retailers here).

I also love going into a “proper” bookshop and browsing. Have not done the latter yet since the pandemic restrictions were lifted but hope it will be something I get back to before too long.
And the nice thing here is that book shopping is easy enough for family and friends to do for you for Christmas etc. Just give them a list of the books you want and send them to Waterstones!

I also like to mix up asking for paperbacks and ebooks (though usually I’ll sort out the latter myself). And I like to have non-fiction as well as fiction on my Wish List. The downside of all of this?

I know I need to sort out my book shelves. Adding more books is not going to help! But it is a nice problem to have!

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Twitter Corner

 

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