Zest in Fiction, Advice to a New Writer and Publication News

Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes.
Hope you are all okay. Great week here as I have further publication news to share. The buzz of being published never diminishes! Given the writing life is full of ups and downs, it is lovely when the “ups” arrive!

Facebook – General – Chandler’s Ford Today and More Than Writers

29th July 2022 – Chandler’s Ford Today
I don’t know where the last 26 weeks have gone but I wrap up my In Fiction series for CFT this week with Zest In Fiction. I celebrate the joys of zestful writing and look at ways we can keep our enthusiasm for writing going when all we seem to receive are the “pips” rather than the zest of creative writing itself. Every writer goes through it – and more than once too.

I also look at how the discipline or writing regularly can help with keeping that zestful spirit going. I know it sounds a bit of a contradiction but it isn’t. See the post for why.

Many thanks for the comments in already on this one.

Zest In Fiction

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29th July 2022 – More than Writers, the blog spot for the Association of Christian Writers

It’s a busy day on the blog spot today. My second post tonight is to share my latest blog post on More Than Writers. This month I talk about Advice to a New Writer.

Do you agree with my suggestions? What would you add to the list? I also think I’ve found the cutest ever teacup for this post – as you do. Head over and see what you think.
Screenshot 2022-07-29 at 09-15-25 Advice to a New Writer by Allison SymesTwo blogs out tomorrow – Chandler’s Ford Today where I’ll be looking at Zest In Fiction and More Than Writers where I’ll look at Advice to a New Writer. The latter is my monthly spot for the Association of Christian Writers. Links above.

Talking of whom, it was great fun on the ACW Flash Fiction group last night – many thanks to those who came to it.

Writing Tip: Don’t forget you can use things like the random theme and question generators to trigger ideas for non-fiction posts as well as for fiction.

Having a quick look at a random theme one, the topic of innocence came up.

For fiction, you an always write about a framed character or where someone’s innocence is questionable.

For non-fiction, you could look at how the idea of innocent until proven guilty underpins the criminal justice system and how that came about. You could also look at a historical figure’s innocence (Richard III is a key figure here, as is Anne Boleyn).

A quick search on the random question generator I use came up with the topic of What’s your favourite book?

Now that can make a direct non-fiction post as you look into why you’ve chosen the one you have (and a bit of history about the book itself would be a nice addition here).

For fiction, you could invent a book for your character to treasure and show how that affects their actions and reactions to events around them.

AE - March 2022 - random generators encourage you to ask questions about your characters

Hope you have had a good day. Am about to host the monthly meeting of the Association of Christian Writers Flash Fiction group. Always good fun. Zoom is a wonderful thing!

Many thanks for the support shown with the announcement yesterday concerning The Best of CafeLit 11. It is good to be “between the covers” with friends once again!

Last not but least. Don’t forget I send out my monthly newsletter on the first of each month so another one is due soon. To sign up head over to my website (landing page) at https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

It’s Friday. It’s Friday Flash Fiction time. My latest story here is called Moving On. Hope you enjoy it. (Also fabulous to see some familiar names on here this week – well done, all!).

Screenshot 2022-07-29 at 09-28-29 Moving On by Allison Symes

Hope you have had a good day. Very pleasant with the French windows open and enjoying the evening sun.

How do you evoke atmosphere in a flash tale given you haven’t got the word count room to go into much detail? It is a question I think of choosing the one detail to focus on here. For example if I wanted to show a stormy night, I would probably show a character looking out of their house, moaning about the guttering overflowing while watching the trees swaying.

Specific details are more useful in painting the right image in your reader’s mind. Given my example above, I wouldn’t need to say that leaves were coming off the trees because people already know that happens when a storm brews up. They’d expect twigs, small branches etc to be flying about too.

The reader just needs to know the storm is happening and the guttering overflowing and the trees swaying are enough details to give them that picture.

So choose what you think a reader absolutely has to know and then consider what detail can best convey that. The rest can be implied (which is flash fiction’s great strength).

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Thrilled to be in print once again with The Best of CafeLit 11 out yesterday. Will have some nice admin to do on this such as ordering my copies, getting it added to my Amazon Author Central page, ALCS, Goodreads and so on.

About to head off to run a flash fiction group for the Association of Christian Writers. Always fun and we all learn a lot from this. I especially encourage sharing market news given no one author can know it all so if you have the chance to take part in groups in your genre, go for it. You may well learn loads, and have lots of fun. Win-win. You get to write more flash as well for the flash group I lead.

 

Fairytales with Bite – Transformations

The fairytales have plenty of transformations from arrogant princes into beasts and suspiciously bright red applies into something nasty and so on. There is always a good reason behind them. In the first case, the arrogant prince needed cutting down to size. In the second, the wicked stepmother wanted to poison Snow White. Nobody said a transformation necessarily had to be for a good reason.

So with that in mind, think about what or whom you want to be transformed in your stories. What is the reason? How are the transformations going to happen? Does magic necessarily have to be involved? Can whatever is being transformed be restored to what they were again?

Where the transformation is a positive one, how does that go on to affect the character’s life? Do others around them welcome the change?

Not everyone would. Especially if someone has come out from someone else’s control, there will be one character definitely unhappy at the change! What would they try to to to reverse the situation and do they succeed? Or are they transformed too? If so how? What makes them see the error of their ways?

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This World and Others – Changing the Guard

In your setting, how would regime change happen? Revolution or reform? Who or what is the catalyst for this? I must admit I prefer reform generally because fewer people get hurt. Does your fictional world learn from its own history or does it make the same mistakes time and again?

The old saying about not throwing the baby out with the bath water comes into mind here. When it comes to changing the guard, are there aspects a new ruler or system of government would want to retain (or copy and adapt for its own use)? And how do the “ordinary” people take to the changes being imposed on them? They are rarely asked about these things in advance!

Where changing the guard is a good thing, what system of government or ruler had to go first? And does the change of regime delivery on its promises to make things better for the people?

Changing the guard can be a good or bad thing – so much depends on perspective. What would your character’s perspective be?

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Publication News, Flash Fiction, and Impact

Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes.
Am thrilled to be in print again in new release, The Best of CafeLit 11. More details below. The thrill of being published does not dim!

 

Facebook – General

26th July 2022 – Publication News – The Best of CafeLit 11
Am thrilled to say The Best of CafeLit 11 is now out. I have a story in here, Flying Too High. I love collections like these, even when I’m not in them, as they’re a great way to try out authors new to you. You also get a real mix of stories and moods too.

I am also thrilled about this for another reason – I am on the front cover as one of the editors. Each editor had a month or two to work on but naturally did not edit our own work.

You never want to do that anyway. Why? Because you really do need another pair of eyes to assess what you have written. You are too close to your own work to be able to judge objectively. But it is lovely be on the front cover as an editor for the first time. It was a joy to work on this book and to be in it.

Many congratulations to the other writers in this new collection. It is always wonderful to know you have work in a book out! And it will be lovely to celebrate in person with you later in the year – I do hope you can get to the celebration event. Always good to meet up with old friends and make new ones here.

 

Hope you have had a good Monday. Not bad here. Lady got to see one of her best pals, the lovely Hungarian Vizler. Good time had by both, especially now the air is much cooler.

Will be sharing Zest In Fiction for Chandler’s Ford Today on Friday. I’ll also be talking about Advice to A New Writer for More Than Writers, the blog spot for the Association of Christian Writers again on Friday. Will put up separate posts with links. I know – no blogs for ages and then two come along at once.#

My current story on Friday Flash Fiction, called Tomorrow, is loosely based on real experience though I will say I haven’t done a sky jump. Nor do I intend to – the birds have enough to contend with in the skies without strange women jumping out at them – and I hope that has got you wondering. Story link here.


Screenshot 2022-07-22 at 09-05-01 Tomorrow by Allison Symes


Am enjoying writing with my French windows open now we’ve got a decent breeze to go with it. Most refreshing. I must admit I did find things pretty hard going on Tuesday when we had a record breaking high temperature in my part of the world.

I felt sluggish and it was hard to focus (except on thinking things like this is too hot, is the dog okay etc etc!). And yes Lady was fine but she is much happier now things have cooled down a bit. I do always drink plenty of water by the way which does help with concentration but on Tuesday I think it was a question you couldn’t drink enough of it to overcome the wave of heat that hit most of us here in the UK.

Will have two blogs out next week. My Chandler’s Ford Today weekly one will be out on Friday as usual. It will also be my turn on More Than Writers, the blog for the Association of Christian Writers, again on Friday. I write for them on the 29th of each month so this means I get every three Februaries off! So must remember to do a double Facebook post on Friday.

So looking forward to Swanwick next month and the Bridge House Publishing event in December. Had been looking forward to going to see our local theatre group’s summer production but they have had to cancel unfortunately. I hope to get along to their autumn show though (and before we know it, it will then be panto time again!).

Writing Tip: Every so often go through your old notebooks and look at exercises you took part in during conferences etc. Revise those stories and see if you can submit them. I’ve done this and had work published that way but I also know it is far too easy to forget what is in your notebooks.

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Hope you have had a good Saturday so far.

It’s hard to believe I’m almost at the end of my In Fiction series for Chandler’s Ford Today. Next week I’ll be looking at Zest In Fiction. Where did 26 weeks go?!

I sometimes use the random generators for ideas for topics for posts. The random question and theme ones are great for this.

For example, a random theme I generated a moment ago came up with the idea of sliver of hope. I can immediately think of some fiction ideas for that but for a blog, I could write a factual piece about where a sliver of hope changed the life of a famous historical character. Or even speculate where it might have done had it happened – two sides of the same coin there basically.

A random question I just generated came up with If you lost all of your possessions but one, what would you want it to be?

Interesting question and this could make a great article simply by my answering this myself.

So for non-fiction fans, the random generators can be useful for you too.

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Many thanks for the views coming in on my latest YouTube tale, Enough Is Enough. If you would like to subscribe to my channel, you can do so at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCPCiePD4p_vWp4bz2d80SJA – new subscribers are always welcome.

I usually post a new tale here once a week unless I’m away, ill etc. Good fun to do too. It is proving to be a great way of encouraging my flash fiction productivity and it is fun to think visually – to work out what videos would best suit my stories.

Screenshot 2022-07-26 at 20-40-16 Allison Symes

It’s Monday, It has been a long day. It is definitely story time. My latest tale on YouTube is called Enough Is Enough. Hope you enjoy it.

F = Focus – flash is a great way to sharpen your writing as you must concentrate on what matters to your character – no room for waffle!

L= Liberating, as despite the word count restriction, you can write across genres, in the first, third persons etc.

A = Acrostic flashes can be great to do – pick a relatively short word to use as these work best.

S = Story, story, story – it is all about the story – flash has to be a complete tale in and of itself.

H = Historical flash, humorous flash – have fun exploring genres here.

Advantage to flash is setting characters anywhere

I’ve talked before about the impact of flash fiction and that’s because it is one of the genre’s strengths. You haven’t got a lot of words to play with so you do have to make a great impact with the ones you have got!

This is why I think about the emotional response I want my story to have on a reader. I then think about what kind of character could fulfil that and the likely setting for them. Then I draft my tale.

When I know what my twist ending is (because I’ve drafted a few possibilities to use at a later date) I will know from what I drafted what the emotional impact is going to be already. I can hit the ground running here (which is another great reason to draft ideas for writing up later!).

Sometimes a story ends up being longer than I initially thought. That’s okay. If it works better at 300 words rather than 100 words, I leave it at the larger number and find a different market for it.

What matters is the story and its impact. You don’t want to dilute a powerful story for the sake of a word count. You equally don’t want a wordy story which could genuinely be cut and sharpened up. This is why I ask myself whether this is really necessary as I go through my draft. I’ve got to always be able to say yes to that.

AE - July 2021 - A well rounded character will show us something of ourselves

Goodreads Author Blog – Light Reading

Light reading is something I do all year round. When the world is being especially grim, as it is right now, then that’s the time to turn to books that help you escape. I was not surprised the sales of Wodehouse rocked up during the pandemic. People need an escape and lighter reading can be a great way to have that escape. (Especially if you really can’t go anywhere to get that escape another way!).

Light reading for me also includes reading short stories and flash collections, no matter what their theme. I just love short reads (and getting plenty of value for money by having lots of stories in one book!).
I do wish genre fiction wasn’t looked down on by some. It is snobbery. Genre fiction helps subsidize the more literary works and everyone has different tastes in books anyway.

Screenshot 2022-07-26 at 20-49-39 Light Reading

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Stories, Naming Characters, and Addictive Flash Fiction

Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes.
Hope you had a good weekend. Nice to have publication news to share this week. Glad to share two links to two of my stories as part of that.

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Facebook – General

Hope you have had a good Tuesday. Loved a swim earlier on today and Lady got to play with her best buddies, the Rhodesian Ridgeback, and the Hungarian Vizler. Lovely dogs. Girls had a great time. Good day all round here then!

Looking forward to leading the Association of Christian Writers Flash Fiction group tomorrow (so my posts may be up late or early tomorrow depending on what kind of day I have!). I’ve used PowerPoint more in the last twelve months or so (as it is so useful to use on Zoom) than I have in the last twelve years. That really isn’t an exaggeration.

Many thanks for the lovely responses (especially on Twitter) to Jubilee, my latest story on CafeLit. Link below. This tale was one where I knew the name of the character immediately (I don’t always). Here I anted an older lady, who is a little posh but well meaning with it – Dorothy it had to be then!

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Publication News – CafeLit
Delighted to be back on CafeLit with my new story, Jubilee. I wrote this as a homework exercise I set for the Association of Christian Writers Flash Fiction group which I lead. Dorothy is one of those characters who grow on you – see what you make of her here. Hope you enjoy.

Screenshot 2022-06-27 at 17-36-02 CafeLitMagazine
Today would have been my father’s 85th birthday. He is much missed by all the family. What was nice was my late Mum got to see my first story in print and Dad got to see my first book. Don’t think they’d be too impressed with the state of the world right now, especially since both of them were child evacuees.

On a happier note I am glad to say I will have a new story up on CafeLit tomorrow. Am looking forward to sharing the link then. See above!

And I think I may have found what may be my favourite title for a Chandler’s Ford Today post. My blog this week will be called Verbs and Verbosity In Fiction! Link up on Friday. (Wish me luck for when I get to the letter X by the way!).

My author newsletter will also be going out later this week so if you would like to sign up for that, do head over to my landing page at https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com

 

Hope you’ve had a good Saturday. I’ve spent the day mowing the lawn, playing ball with the dog (and while mowing the lawn too – it is quite a sight!), washing, ironing, cooking etc. Now it’s writing time. I am one of those writers who can only relax into writing when I know the major things of the day are behind me.

So could I procrastinate with doing “essential” jobs while putting off doing any writing? Not really. I do have a saving grace here – I loathe housework! There is no way I’m using that as an excuse not to write! If anything the opposite is true in that I get the dreaded chores done as soon as I can to expand my writing time.

And talking of writing, I am glad to say I now have an author bio up on the Friday Flash Fiction site under their Authors section. See the link and screenshot. Also, a big thanks to all for the comments in on my new story here, A Picture Paints A Hundred Words.

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

It doesn’t take long to become addicted to writing flash fiction. I found after writing my first 100 word piece, I wanted to see if I could do it again (partly to prove to myself it wasn’t a fluke I think). Then I wanted to do another, then another, and then I tried to write to 50 words and then again to 500, and on to the upper limit of 1000 and all kinds of word counts in between. All great fun!

It has been lovely getting back to the drabble for Friday Flash Fiction especially since writing to that length was my way into flash fiction in the first place. There’s a pleasing symmetry to that I think.

So be warned! Flash can prove surprisingly addictive for such a short form of writing. I also wanted to explore (and still do) what kinds of characters would work well in such a tiny tale, whether I could write linked flashes (where the same character turns up in more than one story) and so on. Always plenty to try here and that too is part of the charm of flash fiction.

Allison Symes - Flash Fiction Collections

It’s Monday. It has been hectic (and stormy here in my part of the world). Definitely time for a story I think. Hope you enjoy my latest on YouTube – Many Happy Returns.

Interesting thought for a writing prompt here. Anniversaries, birthdays and the like can be sad or happy or a mixture of both, depending on exact circumstances. Is there a special day for a character of yours? What would be the story behind that being a special day? Does your character change their views on a special day and, if so why? Can other characters help them to see things more positively where that might be needed? Hmm…story ideas there I’m sure – good luck!

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The challenge of writing to a specific word count (such as my drabbles for Friday Flash Fiction) is also in making sure that I am getting the maximum impact from my story. Every one of those one hundred words has to punch its weight to justify its place in my tale. This is where I admit I love it when the title is not included in the overall word count. I can use that title to give extra nuances and indicate the likely mood of the story without using up my “allowance”.

Ironically my story this week on Friday Flash Fiction is one of my rarer stories with a fairly long title – A Picture Paints a Hundred Words. I used that one because it is a play on the usual phrase (it’s usually a thousand words but I wanted to play on the fact the drabble is only one hundred words long. Because a standard phrase is being subverted a little bit here, that will help make it more memorable. My favourite word counts for titles are usually between one to four words. They’re even easier to remember as a rule.

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Goodreads Author Blog – The Good Old Paperback

The good old paperback has long been my favourite book format. Easier to carry around than a hardback (and certainly less damaging if you drop it on your foot!). That love was intensified when my own flash fiction collections came out in good old paperback! Okay, I’m biased but it is a good reason to be biased!

The first paperbacks I remember buying were the Famous Five books by Enid Blyton in the days when you could buy books from your local newsagent. Southern TV had been adapting the books and of course the publishers brought out the books in an edition to match the TV series.

I then bought my own paperback of Pride and Prejudice by the wonderful Jane Austen. Later I went on to the paperbacks of the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett and the P.G. Wodehouse books (though I haven’t got all of those. Still it gives me something to aim for!). All a joy to buy and to read and re-read (a sign of a good book is that is it one you can always re-read).

Which paperbacks are your favourites and why? Are there any you regret buying? (Sometimes you can find the answer to that one by looking at the books given to charity shops. Every so often a book is a big hit and then it just drops out of favour and ends up in said charity shops!).

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Flash Flexibility, Writing Workshops, and Supporting Other Writers

Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes. 
Hope you have had a good few days. Summery weather at last which Lady and I have loved. I have publication news too so it’s a good start to the week in that department too.

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Facebook – General

Lovely day today and Lady is very happy because she got to “boop” her best mate, the lovely Rhodesian Ridgeback. Usually the Ridgeback boops Lady. For dogs, it really is the little things in life that bring them the most joy (oh and dinner of course!).

Delighted to say I can now reveal I will have another story on Cafelit on 27th June. Looking forward to sharing the link on that then. The piece comes from a homework exercise I set for members of the Association of Christian Writers Flash Fiction Group.

Will be off to the theatre again in July with my lovely editor from Chandler’s Ford Today, Janet Williams, Looking forward to seeing the latest production from The Chameleon Theatre Group. Will review in due course. I should’ve finished my In Fiction series for CFT by then – wish me luck finding something suitable for the letters V and X! I hope my years of Scrabble paying might help here!

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Hope your Monday has been okay. Busy as ever here though the weather was lovely. Glad to say I’ll have further publication news to share soon so that’s a smashing start to the week.

My Chandler’s Ford Today post this week is about Underlining In Fiction. I’ll be looking at how to stress points to a reader without needless boring repetition and talking about planting the right clues. Link up on Friday.

Amazon currently has offers on the paperback of both From Light to Dark and Back Again and Tripping the Flash Fantastic. See the link.

Writing Tip Number 3,004 or something like that but one I’ve found incredibly useful: time away from a piece of work is crucial. You do need the distance in terms of time away from it so you can see where it has strengths and, more importantly, where it hasn’t!

With my judge’s hat on, I can spot those stories where an author has clearly given themselves enough time away from their story as they have then edited it effectively too.

The trouble with editing a story immediately is there tends to be two responses to it – this is a work of utter genius, no work needs to be done to this deathless prose, or this is a work which I really shouldn’t have bothered with, everyone will loathe it. Neither are true. The truth is your story will have promise but needs polishing up and sharpening to show bring its potential out.

Screenshot 2022-06-20 at 20-11-22 Amazon.co.uk Allison Symes

Many thanks for the comments in on Time Off, my latest tale on Friday Flash Fiction. Some smashing feedback, all appreciated.

Going back to my Authors Electric post yesterday on Writing Workshops, I can’t stress enough how important it is to support other writers (something Friday Flash Fiction does very well, as does CafeLit). Nobody produces a perfect bit of work immediately (and is there any such thing anyway? I can look back at my earlier stories and see immediately how they could be bettered but they were where I was at during that time of my writing life).

We all have to start somewhere. We can all improve on what we do. It takes time and practice. There are no shortcuts for anyone.And people remember those who support them. They also remember those who were unsupportive. Which would you rather be known as – a supportive writer or not? I know what camp I want to be in! (That thought is assisted by the old saying make your words sweet as you never know when you’ve got to eat them!).

18th June – Authors Electric
It’s my turn on the Authors Electric blog and this month I’m talking about Writing Workshops. I discuss what I love about these, whether I run them or go to them, and look at how old school pen and paper can come into their own at these things. Hope you enjoy (and I’m looking forward to running another workshop at the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School in August).

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Flash has more flexibility than you might think. Yes, there is the word count issue but I’ve written stories in the first person, the third, as diary extracts, as well as setting my characters backwards and forwards in time. I’ve written fairytales with bite, crime tales, the odd ghost flash piece etc.

What influences all of this are the kinds of story I’ve loved reading over the years and which I continue to love and read. It really has paid off for me to read reasonably well and widely (I don’t think anyone can claim to be perfect here. Why would you want to be anyway? You want there to be other books and genres to discover after all!).

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Many thanks for the views on my YouTube tale last week (or should that be tail?) – The Unexpected. But it is Monday once again and time for another video. Hope you like this one – The True Picture. I used a random verb generator which triggered the word picture and here is what I came up with for that prompt.

Sometimes I have an idea for what I think will be a flash piece but the story really does deserve a larger word count. So I simply write that piece for the short story market instead (and my stories tend to come in at 1500 to 2000 words for that). Sometimes what I think could make a good short story really does work better as a shorter, tighter flash piece. And that’s all fine.

It’s why it has paid me to ensure I have a foot in both camps when it comes to short form storytelling. What matters is the story is right for the character (and vice versa) and the story has a proper beginning, middle, and end. The story ends with a proper resolution to the dilemma the story is about and sometimes that will come in at a longer or shorter word count that you might have originally anticipated.

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I’m chatting about Writing Workshops for Authors Electric this month (see my author page on this – https://www.facebook.com/allison.symes.50) and one advantage to flash fiction here is these are easy to share when you want to discuss elements of story writing. They don’t take too long. They also demonstrate the points you’re trying to make. (And it’s another way of spreading the word about flash fiction so win-win there!).

I’ve found flash pieces are especially useful for demonstrating the old advice of show, not tell. Precisely because I don’t have the word count room for description, I do have to get my characters to show the readers what matters. And showing a point gets things across more clearly I find. I’ve been on the receiving end of that benefit many a time from workshops I’ve been to and have always appreciated that.

Screenshot 2022-06-18 at 20-05-37 (4) Allison Symes Facebook

Goodreads Author Blog – Book Covers

For a book to grip me, I have to be gripped by its characters, but the right book cover is what is going to get me to look at the blurb, the opening page, and then go on to buy said book. I want the cover to show me something of the mood/genre of the book, to be attractive, and to intrigue me enough so I do pick the book up in the first place. Not asking much. Hmm…. No wonder book covers are so difficult to get spot on.

My favourite quote on the topic comes from the wonderful P.G. Wodehouse who, in a letter to a friend, said “God may forgive Herbert Jenkins Limited for the cover of……… But I never shall!” Book title deleted here to protect the guilty. I highly recommend the Wodehouse books of letters by the way – there is a wonderful one edited by Frances Donaldson (Yours Plum, the Letters of P.G.Wodehouse which is where I came across this quote) and another which was edited by Sophie Ratcliffe (Wodehouse: A Life in Letters). Both are fascinating reads.

It is some comfort to me as a writer that even the big names didn’t/haven’t always liked the book covers they’ve been “given”. I’ve been fortunate here in that my small indie publisher has ensured I have had some input into my covers which is something I’ve appreciated.

The author ought to have some idea of themes etc that their book cover could draw on though, rightly, the publisher should have the final say given they know what has worked for them already and can drawn on that kind of knowledge one author is simply not going to have.

So then what works for you with book covers? I don’t like over-complicated ones. Indeed my Agatha Christie collection (good old Odhams Publishers) are simply red hardbacks with gold lettering – simple but effective. The Lord of the Rings trilogy has Gandalf striding out in bad weather and again works well (I know immediately this has to be a fantasy quest).

Screenshot 2022-06-18 at 20-24-23 Book Covers

 

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Jubilees, Flash Fiction, and Publication News


Image Credit:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots and photos relating to the ACW Golden Jubilee weekend taken by me, Allison Symes.
It has been a lovely few days. No Jubilees for ages and then two together – Her Majesty’s Platinum one (I loved the Paddington Bear sketch) and the ACW one.

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Facebook – General

Funny old day weather wise here. June is being far from flaming in my part of the world.

I’ll be looking at Travelling Workshops for my Chandler’s Ford Today post this week. I’ll be taking a look back at two I’ve recently run and share what I think the benefit of these things are. Link up on Friday.

Managed to get a story drafted for Friday Flash Fiction on my train home on Sunday as I came back from the ACW Golden Jubilee weekend. Polished that up on Monday and submitted it. Also drafted and then edited a story for my Youtube channel on the way home and I hope to share the results of that over on my book page shortly. Good old Evernote – a very handy app to have on my phone!

Screenshot 2022-06-07 at 20-52-43 From Light to Dark and Back Again Facebook


Hectic day after a wonderful and busy weekend away. Lady went bonkers, the way she usually does, when she saw me again last night. She went even more bonkers with her best mate, the lovely Rhodesian Ridgeback, in the park this morning! Back to normal here then!

Delighted to come back to another acceptance of a story of mine, which I hope to talk about more later on in the year. Separately have had the contract in for my story for the next Bridge House Publishing Anthology. All exciting stuff.

What is especially nice is for a long time you get stories out there and then things tend to happen at once (or seem to). You get used to those periods where nothing seems to be happening and then make the most of those times when it is clear things are definitely happening!

The writing life really is a roller coaster.

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Am on my way home from a fabulous Association of Christian Writers Golden Jubilee weekend. Had a great time and it was wonderful to catch up with old friends and to make new ones.

I was especially pleased to meet up with #JennySanders because she often sends in stories for the flash fiction challenge I set monthly for Mom’s Favorite Reads. And talking of which I’m pleased to share the link for the June edition of MFR. Hope you enjoy.

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It was lovely to see so many at my flash fiction workshop at the Association of Christian Writers Golden Jubilee weekend. Many thanks for coming along and I hope people use the writing exercises to draft flash stories. Would love to hear news of publication successes later on.

It has been a fantastic day of celebration and writing here. Have loved catching up with friends and chatting in person to those I’ve enrolled for ACW membership or whose email queries I’ve dealt with.

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

It may be a day later but we can still start the week with a story! Hope you enjoy my latest tale on YouTube – Ringing The Changes.

My post in this month’s Mom’s Favorite Reads is all about Numbers in Flash Fiction. I look at how I use these in various ways to create stories. Link to the magazine here – and do check out the excellent flash pieces that came in as a result. Hope you enjoy.
Screenshot 2022-06-06 at 20-40-13 Mom’s Favorite Reads eMagazine June 2022

Had a wonderful time talking about flash at the ACW Golden Jubilee weekend. I hope people try writing it as well as enjoy reading it. It’s an interesting writing challenge and I’ve found it has sharpened up my writing considerably and not just for my fiction work.

So pleased to be having a standard length short story in the next Bridge House Publishing anthology. Looking forward to finding out what the cover will be – and for The Best of CafeLit 11 also due out later this year.

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It has been wonderful to share the joys of flash fiction at the Association of Christian Writers Golden Jubilee weekend. It was great to share stories and give feedback too. I’ve always found that element of things so useful at workshops.

Back home again tomorrow. Lady will wonder where I’ve been. As usual, Lady went a bit bonkers when I came back! Lots of cuddles and pleased to have ALL of her “pack” back!

Goodreads Author Blog – Sharing Stories

One great joy of stories is their share-ability. I’ve happily recommended books to friends and often taken up their recommendations to me.

When I run writing workshops, especially for flash fiction, I often share a couple of my tales and break down how I wrote them. I’ve learned a lot when other writers do this. We’re all keen to learn more about improving on what we do.

I base my recommendations to others on what I know of their book tastes but also if the characterisation is especially good. We all read to find out what happens to the characters after all.

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Settings and Simplicity in Fiction

 

Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes. Hope you have had a good week. Have enjoyed what I’ve seen of the Platinum Jubilee events (and plan to catch up on the rest next week. Why then? Because I’m off to a Golden Jubilee weekend for the Association of Christian Writers, where I’ll be running a flash fiction workshop. No Jubilees for ages and then two at once!).

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Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

Am pleased to share Settings and Simplicity in Fiction for Chandler’s Ford Today. I look at how settings can act like characters. I also wonder whether some authors came up with their settings first and then knew what characters had to be in them or if they came up with the characters first and then had to find the most appropriate setting for them.

I also look at how simple writing takes work and crafting but it is a joy to read and the reader has nothing clunky getting in their way. It makes a huge difference to the reading experience for them. I often wonder when I come across over-complicated prose, as I do sometimes, just what the writer was trying to hide or show off here. For me the joy of writing is about communicating with a reader and I want to be as direct as possible on that. I don’t see the point of doing anything else.

Settings and Simplicity in Fiction

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2nd June – Queen’s Coronation Day Anniversary

Loved watching Trooping the Colour and the flypast today. Fabulous weather. Great crowds too. I plan to catch up with the other events once I am back from the ACW Golden Jubilee weekend. Am off on my travels for that tomorrow.

My Chandler’s Ford Today post tomorrow is all about Settings and Simplicity In Fiction. I look at how settings can act like characters and why simple writing isn’t as easy as it (a) looks and (b) sounds. One benefit from flash fiction writing is it has taught me how to spot my wasted words, what doesn’t add anything to my story, so I know to ruthlessly cut all of that on my edit.

And I have publication news too – I am pleased to say my story has been accepted for the Bridge House Publishing anthology due out later this year. More news as and when – am delighted to be included again. Congratulations to everyone else who received this lovely news too!

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Two days to go to the ACW Golden Jubilee weekend. So looking forward to seeing everyone.

Next trip after that will be to the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School in August. Looking forward to that too! Am getting good use out of my railcard this year. This is nice because I was the woman who bought a railcard two weeks before the first lockdown started in 2020 when nobody was going anywhere. Oops! Making up for lost time now though.

I will be putting my posts up as normal over the weekend but they will be at different times. Will be pretty busy during the day and evening so expect the posts to go up late. I do hope to write up about the weekend (and my time with the lovely people at the London Jesuit Centre recently) for a CFT post before long as well.

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

So pleased to share my latest story on Friday Flash Fiction. Hope you enjoy On The Doorstep. This was a joy to write and I was rooting for my character, Mabel, all the way through. This is good. The first person to care about a character should be their creator!

https://www.fridayflashfiction.com/100-word-stories/on-the-doorstep-by-allison-symes

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One reason I outline before writing a story is to avoid the old saggy middle problem. Yes, it can happen in flash fiction too. I’ve found knowing my start and end points is a good way of avoiding that issue. I know where I’m heading so off I go!

How much to outline is up to each writer. I don’t fill in each and every detail as I want to give my imagination manoeuvre room, as I’ve mentioned before, but I do need the “pillars” of the story in place so I know from the start the structure is going to be okay. (Maybe without a good structure in place, that encourages the saggy middle to happen – just a thought).

I think it is a question of working out what you need to know before writing a story and that will differ from writer to writer as well.

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Looking forward to sharing the joys of flash fiction at the ACW Golden Jubilee at the weekend. Talking about talking…! One good thing about flash is when you do use dialogue, you’ve got to keep it focused. I must admit I do enjoy getting characters chatting but conversational ping-pong is not the idea!

What I look for dialogue to do (including internal dialogue) is for it to move the story on in some way. If it does, fab; it stays in. If not, out comes the old editing pen. It has helped to be aware though that I do like conversational ping-pong. I love to hear my characters speak because to me that proves they are “real”.

But the overriding concern has to be does it help the story develop? That is my guiding light as to whether something stays in a tale or not, regardless ot the story length.

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Fairytales with Bite – Clothes in a Magical World

When the thought for this topic came to me. I thought of two stories immediately. The obvious one was Cinderella – the rags being turned into that wonderful dress.

I also thought of the fairytale The Elves and the Shoemaker – I do count shoes as clothes (well, if you’re going out somewhere, you need something on your feet!, but also because of how this story ends with the shoemaker’s wife sewing clothes for the elves in return for their kindness to her husband and herself. I also like this story because you get to see the elves being cobblers (and not just using magic to make the shoes etc) and you also see the wife sewing.

I could have thought of The Emperor’s New Clothes too but that is really a story about a pair of successful con artists when all is said and done!

So in your created world, what do your characters wear? What are the differences between species and/or classes here? How are the items made? Is there a manufacturing industry as such or does everyone make their own? Or are skills bartered? What equipment is used? I’ll take spinning wheels as a given!

In your stories, you almost certainly won’t need to go into a lot of detail here but the odd line here or there about who wears what, where they get clothes etc from will help your world seem more real to a reader. Having a character go to a shop (or your world’s equivalent) would be enough to show a reader how this works. I love little details in stories. They help me picture things and I won’t be the only reader who thinks that.

This World and Others – Material Matters

Tying in with Fairytales with Bite , where does your fictional world get its materials from, whether for clothing, shoe making or anything else? Can it produce its own or does it have to import some or all of what it needs? Where would it import from and have there ever been trade wars etc or have two societies been able to trade successfully?

When it comes to producing its own, what can it produce? Are crops (such as cotton) grown? What kind of people in your society would do things like that? Are they looked down on for doing manual work or held in high esteem? Attitudes to others have repercussions!

What does your fictional world value? We obviously value things like gold and silver but do they? In a world where that is common place, it might be treated with contempt. You don’t tend to notice the “every day” stuff.

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Twitter Corner

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>Pleased to share latest CFT post. I look at settings acting like characters and why simple writing isn’t easy writing. It is vital for good prose though!<a href=”https://t.co/llXyQpHphi“>https://t.co/llXyQpHphi</a></p>&mdash; Allison Symes (@AllisonSymes1) <a href=”https://twitter.com/AllisonSymes1/status/1532659454084251648?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw“>June 3, 2022</a></blockquote> http://a%20href=

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>Hope you enjoy my latest drabble on Friday Flash Fiction. I was rooting for my character, Mabel. Hope you do too.<a href=”https://t.co/Q7WjxPCo5T“>https://t.co/Q7WjxPCo5T</a></p>&mdash; Allison Symes (@AllisonSymes1) <a href=”https://twitter.com/AllisonSymes1/status/1532659994797154304?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw“>June 3, 2022</a></blockquote> http://a%20href=

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

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

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Facebook – General

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anyway, please be aware, folks.

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

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

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

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

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


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

 

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

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

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

Goodreads Author Blog – Books Acrostic

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

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Murder with Ghosts Review, Publication News, and The Gift

Image Credit:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Some images created in Book Brush using Pixabay photos.
A huge thank you to The Chameleon Theatre Group for kind permission to use their photos in my Chandler’s Ford Today post.
Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.
Nice intriguing title for tonight’s post I think! Hope you have had a good week. Am very much looking forward to going to the Brechin/Angus Book Festival next week. Many thanks to Sarah Archibald for the fab posters.

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Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

It is always a pleasure to share on Chandler’s Ford Today a review of the latest performance by The Chameleon Theatre Group. This time, I review Murder with Ghosts, a spoof written by Simon Brett. It was lovely to meet up with my fantastic editor at CFT, Janet Williams, for a kind of “CFT works outing”, which was the first we’ve had since before lockdown.

We had a fantastic time watching the performance and there are plenty of literary influences at work in this play. See the review for more. This particular play also gave me a very pleasant wander down memory lane too – again see the review for what and why.

I look at the performance, the play, and the setting – plenty to enjoy here. And what is always nice is The Chameleons hold raffles in aid of a charity each year. Of course that also went kaput last year thanks to You Know What but they are back in business on this too and are raising funds for the Hampshire Air Ambulance, a most worthy cause.

Review: Chameleon Theatre Group – Murder with Ghosts

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Looking forward to sharing my review of the latest production by The Chameleon Theatre Group on Chandler’s Ford Today this week. They staged a wonderful spoof by Simon Brett called Murder with Ghosts. Think Agatha Christie crossed with P.G. Wodehouse and you get a good idea. Link up tomorrow. (If you get the chance to see this play elsewhere, do go. It was marvellous).

Many thanks for the lovely comments on my post yesterday about Resolutions by Bridge House Publishing. See post further down. It is always a lovely feeling having another story published in one of their cracking anthologies. And I can’t wait to catch up with fellow authors from BHP at the celebration event in London on 4th December. What will be especially nice this year is we’re having lunch together first as well. Plenty of time to chat! After that I might even begin to think about Christmas!

PUBLICATION NEWS

Am so thrilled to be able to announce further publication news. The buzz of being published never diminishes!

I am delighted to say my story Next Time, Maybe is in the hot-off-the-presses Bridge House Publishing anthology, Resolutions. As ever with the BHP books, there is a wonderful eclectic mix of stories and styles here. My tale follows the mishaps of Sandra as she tries to find a resolution that works for her. Great fun to write and a character I think a lot of us would identify with. Does she succeed in her quest? Well there’s only one way to find out!

Resolutions is out in paperback and on Kindle from the usual outlets but the link takes you to the Bridgetown Cafe Bookshop, the online shop for Bridge House Publishing, CafeLit, Chapeltown Books.

Screenshot 2021-11-10 at 18-44-46 The Bridgetown Café Bookshop

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

A huge thank you for the wonderful comments coming in on The Gift, my latest tale on #FridayFlashFiction. Feedback is always appreciated. If you have cats, have ever owned any etc., this story will have particular resonance for you. Hope you enjoy it (oh and by the way this tale proves I am unbiased. I am a dog owner!).

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

Now after yesterday’s exciting news about Resolutions, the latest Bridge House Publishing anthology, comes news dear to a writer’s heart. I designed some new postcards for publicity purposes and they arrived as I’d hoped in good time for me to take them to the Brechin/Angus Book Festival. I look forward to showing them off there first and hopefully again at the BHP celebration event on 4th December.

Am always pleased when something like this works well. They always look wonderful on screen but holding the actual product in your hand and really liking it is good. And this has a nice link to flash fiction as one of the names for flash is postcard fiction (I.e. what you can get on the back of a postcard – roughly 200 to 300 words, depending on how tiny your writing is or not!).

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Am back between the covers again for Bridge House Publishing with my story, Next Time, Maybe, for their anthology called Resolutions. Good to see familiar names in here with me. When reading a short story or flash fiction collection, I look for a good mix of styles and moods. You won’t be disappointed here. Available in Kindle and paperback. And it is always a thrill to be published.

Below this book on the Bridgetown Cafe Bookshop is a collection by Lynn Clement called The City of Stories. I will be interviewing Lynn for Chandler’s Ford Today soon as I met her a few years ago when I was a guest speaker at the Hampshire Writers’ Society. Delighted to see she too has embraced the wonders of flash fiction!

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Fairytales with Bite – Practical Magical Transportation

We all know the busy fairy godmother has to have reliable transport and it would be ideal if she didn’t have to coerce…err… change some rats and other wildlife who somehow volunteered into becoming that transport. So the answer is to arrange things herself and fly. No broomstick for her. (She doesn’t like the chafing). What she needs is a powerful set of wings that can take her through storm force winds, torrential rain, unusual tornados above Kansas and that kind of thing.

Clothing is important too. No stupid tutus for her. It gets cold up there. So thermals to cope with the thermals is a good idea. Another item on her list is smart separates, ideally of the fleecy variety. She’s not looking for style here. She can change into something stylish on landing after all. And now you know why you never see a fairy godmother land. She needs time to sort herself out and then appear in something suitably sparkly and bright, waving her wand about, to go and help the next client on her list.

Oh and a decent pocket or several where she can stow her wands while flying, her mini spell book (so useful for any occasion), and a hip flask and high energy snacks are also vital. Flying does take it out of a fairy godmother. Still she doesn’t have to worry about calorie counting so that’s a plus.

What she really doesn’t need are the birds getting in her way when she’s moving at speed. She feels they resent anything not a bird being up in the sky with them. Her attitude is tough but the other reason she has to change her fleecy separates so often is because many birds have an excellent and unavoidable way of showing their disapproval and have a great aim with said disapproval which they express in physical form.

Even when you’re magical, things won’t always go your way.

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This World and Others – Transport Systems

Assuming my fairy godmother character has got to her latest destination safely, let’s take a look at transport systems you might want to bring into your own fiction.

A lot depends on the time frame for your work – is it futuristic (in which case invent your own transport)? Is it contemporary (in which case you could take what we have here and add a unique twist to it to make it unique to your fictional world?). Is it set in the past (in which case look at our old transport systems and see if there is something you can take from that to use in your fiction?).

When my family was younger, we used to love visiting the transport museums and it was fascinating to see how, say, trains developed. Why not consider a visit to places like this and see if something sparks your imagination here? (You get a better idea of size and scale if you go in person. Pick up a guide book – you can use this as a basic research tool as most of these are well written with details you might be able to use to help inspire your own ideas. Seeing how we did things can inspire ideas for how your characters will do things and not just for transport).

You also need to decide whether magic will be involved in your transport system, whether it is to make it work at all, or whether it is the transport system. You will need to decide what power is used here and especially if you do use a magical system, is that power sustainable? How is it obtained/generated?

Also is transport available to all or only the elite? Are there classes of transport and people use the kind assigned to their ranking? Are there roads as we would know them? Do your characters travel much or is this a rare event only done in an emergency? How do your people get from A to B?

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Reviews, Transformations, and Publication News

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. I also took the images from inside CafeLit 10.

Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Images relating to Creativity Matters: Find Your Passion for Writing were kindly supplied by Wendy H Jones, some were created by me in Book Brush, and the proud contributing author pics were taken by Adrian Symes. Always tricky trying to take those kind of photos yourself. If your other half needs to know how they can support the author in their life, taking their author pics (and doing a good job of it) is a great place to start!

Hope you have a good start to the working week. Not a bad start here with publication news for next week and reviews coming in for Creativity Matters: Find Your Passion for Writing.

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Facebook – General

Pleased to say I’ll be having another story on CafeLit next week (found out today). Will share more details nearer the time but that kind of news cheers up any Tuesday!

I submitted another story about my hapless magical being, Sarah, to Friday Flash Fiction and hope that will appear later this week. I usually create a video for my Youtube channel on a Sunday and schedule it to appear on the Monday. If you would like to check out the videos I’ve created so far, see the link below which will take you to my YT “home page”.

Over the course of a week, I aim to have a good balance of fiction and non-fiction writing completed (or in the case of longer projects to have made progress on them). It keeps my writing life interesting and means I’m never short of things to do.

Youtube channel – Allison Symes

Youtube iconScreenshot 2021-09-14 at 20-33-09 Allison Symes

Busy old day as it usually is for me on a Monday. Was pleased with my productivity yesterday though. I wrote a couple of flash stories (one of which I’ll share on my book page in a moment as I turned that into a Youtube video). I used a random word generator to trigger ideas for one of them. The other story I’ve submitted to Friday Flash Fiction. And I’ve created a second, exclusive Youtube video with a new story, which will go out as part of my newsletter on 1st October.

I’ve also drafted various presentation materials too and am looking forward to delivering them in due course! Am looking forward to a nice break with better half and the dog later in the year and I plan to edit my non-fiction project during that time.

(I can’t NOT write. Sad muppet? Maybe but I am a productive one! And the dog, my better half and I will be getting in lots of lovely walking during the day so by the time we get back to where we’ll be staying, we’ll all be glad of a sit down. For me that’s a trigger to get the red editing pen out!). Am pleased with it generally but I know I can sharpen it up further so that will be my focus in the latter half of the autumn.

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Hope you have had a good weekend.

I look forward to sharing Part 2 of my interview with #MaressaMortimer on Chandler’s Ford Today on Friday. (And many thanks for the great responses to the share of Part 1 last Friday).

Busy preparing workshop and other material including blogs at the moment. All good fun.

And it was lovely to catch up with some Swanwick friends on Zoom yesterday.

Don’t forget if you want to sign up to my author newsletter (packed full of tips, flash stories, news etc), then please head over to my landing page at https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com

And Amazon have an offer on the paperback of Tripping the Flash Fantastic at the moment. See link for more.

 

Delighted to see some wonderful reviews coming in for Creativity Matters: Find Your Passion for Writing. (There is a blog tour going on right now which Wendy H Jones organised). I am going to share the link for this one though – and a huge thanks to Val Penny for this. It’s the kind of post that will put a smile on any author’s face.

In separate news, I’m making good progress on workshop and other materials for events later in the year (the Brechin/Angus Book Fest) so am well pleased with that too!

 

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Funny old weather today – started gloomy, rain threatening, thunder predicted. Ended up warm and sunny and no clouds in sight. A complete transformation in what was expected.

Now it is possible to get a character transformation across in a flash fiction piece but it has to be a convincing transformation. You also need to be specific about what kind of transformation is likely as you don’t have the word count room to let your readers guess too much. And there has to be clues early on that transformation of some sort is going to be possible and will happen.

In my Seeing Is Believing from Tripping The Flash Fantastic, I open with “When Ben was unwell, strange signs appeared in the sky above his house.”.

That tells you immediately there has to be something special about Ben to make those strange signs happen. You can also reasonably expect to see some of those signs in the course of his story (otherwise why mention it?) and you have an idea of location.

House indicates an ordinary every day setting yet something is unusual here and that is the hook to draw the reader in with. You have the sense that something is going to happen either because of Ben or to Ben because of those strange signs. And that is how it should be. There is the sense something or someone is going to be transformed and the likelihood is that it has to involve Ben. It will be a question then of finding out what happens and how he handles it.

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Story time again. Hope you enjoy Being Bettered. Who will come off best – the witch or the fairy godmother?


I’ve mentioned before I need to have a way into a story but those ways can vary. Sometimes I am responding to a set prompt. Sometimes I use a proverb or well known saying as a theme. Sometimes I use an issue that means something to me.

My story Enough is Enough in Tripping the Flash Fantastic is a good example of this as it shows my character’s response to being body-shamed. (Yet another form of bullying, which is something I’ve always loathed). What I do with this story is get my character doing something positive (though whether you would necessarily agree with her idea of positive is another matter). What she doesn’t do is feel sorry for herself. She does get up and do something.

Stories hinge on the “what happens” question and the role of the character/story is to answer that question in some way. Sometimes the answer will be a good one (e.g. the traditional fairytale happily ever after ending is an example of this). Sometimes it won’t be (e.g. the character doesn’t win through despite their best efforts) but the ending will be appropriate for the character and story. And we as readers find out what happens isn’t necessarily what we would have liked to have seen happen. But then that is another way fiction mirrors life.

 

Pleased to say a fab review has come in for Creativity Matters: Find Your Passion for Writing on Amazon. See link for more. My chapter in the book is called Why Write Flash Fiction and Short Stories. Let’s just say I say (and in some depth!). The nice thing with this book as a whole is if you would like to write but don’t know where to start, Creativity Matters will give you plenty of ideas. It also shows you how much variety is out there too in terms of what to write.

And don’t forget to check out Friday Flash Fiction for a wonderful batch of 100-word and other flash tales. My Almost Right is my contribution for this week.
Screenshot 2021-09-10 at 19-06-14 Almost Right, by Allison Symes


Goodreads Author Blog – Anthologies

Now I must put my hand up here and confess to being biased. I’ve had stories published in a number of anthologies over many years (mainly CafeLit and Bridge House Publishing). As well as the joy of being published, I love reading the other stories and discovering what my fellow writers have come out with for their contributions to the books.

As a reader, I love reading anthologies in between reading novels. Often an anthology will help me decide which novel is going to come off my To Be Read list next. A short story in an anthology might put me in the mood for a good crime novel or a fantasy one etc. I also like mixing up the kinds of things I read so I like to have anthologies in between the novels and novellas.

In celebrating the written word, I definitely want to include the short stories as well as the longer works.

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Publication News, Alternative Worlds, and Dialogue

Image Credit:-

All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated.

Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.

Creativity Matters: Find Your Passion for Writing book covers from #WendyHJones.

Author publicity photos taken by Adrian Symes. Other images (including screenshots) taken by me, Allison Symes. Thrilled with my publication news this week, more below, especially as this is my first non-fiction work in print.

Creativity Matters - and my two flash collections

Facebook – General

Delighted to say my copies of Creativity Matters: Find Your Passion for Writing arrived this evening. And naturally that means photo opportunity time! (Thanks to my better half for taking the following).

I can confirm you never do lose the thrill of opening a box of books which you know you have written or contributed to. It’s just a pity you can’t bottle that feeling for drawing on later as and when needed!

Oh and given my chapter in Creativity Matters is Why Write Flash Fiction and Short Stories, I thought my two flash collections should get a look in too.

AND I’ll be chatting to Wendy H. Jones, who compiled and edited Creativity Matters, on Friday for Chandler’s Ford Today about what made her decide to publish other authors. Looking forward to sharing the link.

Hope you have had a good Bank Holiday Monday. Hope you had a great Monday if it wasn’t a Bank Holiday for you. Glad to hear the Inspector Morse theme came top in the Classic FM TV themes countdown. Also glad to hear Danse Macabre by Camille Saint-Saens was in the top 30 as my first introduction to that wonderful music came thanks to it being used as the theme for quirky detective series Jonathan Creek. I suspect most people’s introduction to classical probably does come from TV and film themes and/or adverts.

It has been an odd day weather wise here in Hampshire. Murky and overcast all day. (I can think of some of my characters who could be described like that!). Am busy putting the finishing touches to my September newsletter and will be working on a super two-part interview for Chandler’s Ford Today to go out in the next couple of weeks or so. More details nearer the time but it has been encouraging I have had no shortage of material for CFT for many, many months now. Long may that continue! Am also working on presentations and workshop materials for use later in the year so plenty going on. And for the other reason I love Danse Macabre, see below!

Bonus Post – 29th August – More than Writers

Sorry, meant to share this earlier as it is my turn again on More than Writers, the Association of Christian Writers blog spot. This time I talk about Being Back. I refer to my recent visit to Swanwick but also look at being back at live events again and how, whether we can get to these or not, we should definitely “be back” to encouraging other writers.

Screenshot 2021-08-31 at 20-52-12 Being Back by Allison Symes

Wow! The responses are really coming in for The Turn Around, my latest story on #FridayFlashFiction. Many thanks, everyone. The general feel is my characters deserved each other. If you want to check the story out and decide if you agree or not, please see the link below.

Am so looking forward to sharing my Chandler’s Ford Today post on Friday. This week, I welcome back #WendyHJones and I will be talking with her about her latest venture, Creativity Matters: Find Your Passion for Writing. This is the first time Wendy has published other authors, including yours truly (my chapter is on Why Write Flash Fiction and Short Stories), and I wanted to ask her what made her decide to follow this path.

I also talk with her about what she has had to learn to do this. Wendy also shares with me how she balances her fiction and non-fiction work and balancing getting her own writing done, as well as publishing others. Link up later in the week (and I am on tenterhooks as my copies of the book are due with me any time. Cue the usual author holding up new book photo later this week I hope!). See above!

Screenshot 2021-08-27 at 17-10-59 The Turn Around by Allison Symes


Great to see the response to my blog round-up post Swanwick 2021 yesterday. Not at all surprised most of these are from fellow Swanwickers!

Just a quick reminder I will be sending my author newsletter out next week (1st September) so if you’d like to sign up for tips, news, prompts etc, please head over to my website (the landing page) at https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com

I tend to compile the newsletter as the month goes on as (a) it means I don’t forget anything important and (b) it is easy to just finish off and send at the right time. Mind you, I schedule as many of my blog posts as possible whether it is for Chandler’s Ford Today, Authors Electric, or More Than Writers, the Association of Christian Writers blog spot.

Scheduling has been a boon for me but I still wish I had more time to write!

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Am so thrilled to receive my copies of Creativity Matters: Find Your Passion for Writingtoday. (Link is for Hive.co.uk – an alternative to Amazon). The book is edited and compiled by #WendyHJones. My chapter is on Why Write Flash Fiction and Short Stories. I’ve mentioned before that I did not know flash fiction as a format existed when I first started writing seriously for publication. I am so glad I discovered it! (Pictures from my better half).

Am pleased to share my latest Youtube video. Hope you enjoy Wondering. Miranda cannot understand her neighbours’ fears about a local inhabitant. There is someone else they should be frightened of – as the video makes clear.


I sometimes have fun with flash stories set in alternative worlds. In A Day Out in Tripping the Flash Fantastic, for example, I have my character on his way to feed the ducks but these are no ordinary ducks and my character is not looking forward to the trip. So you can take elements from what we know right here, such as feeding ducks, and turn it into something comedic, tragic, horrific etc.

And in Job Satisfaction from From Light to Dark and Back Again, I show what a disgruntled fairy is prepared to do as part of her “dentistry work” as she carries out her rounds as the Tooth Fairy. Here I am taking the element of someone being fed up with a client she doesn’t like (with good reason) but setting that with a magical background so my operative has more options open to her than us mere mortals would.

So mix elements up and have fun. See what you can do with them. Taking the ordinary and turning them into extraordinary parts of a story is a great way to come up with some interesting and quirky fiction. And for another example of that, see below.

 


Looking forward to receiving my copies of Creativity Matters: Find Your Passion for Writing which I now know are on their way. My chapter is on Why Write Flash Fiction and Short Stories. Looking forward to doing the “author opening the box of books” pose again! Great fun (and we all need validation. It’s a funny thing but every writer needs it. It is just a question of degree).

It was also great to see a very familiar name (thanks to Bridge House Publishing) on Friday Flash Fiction recently (well done #HannahRuthRetallick). I am also thrilled to see a very dear friend of mine and fellow Swanwicker on CafeLit today with a fabulous story called Marmalade. Go visit and check it out. (Always worth scrolling through CafeLit. Lovely mixture of stories in terms of style and word count. Marmalade was out on 28th August 2021). My sympathy is entirely with her lead character, Annie. More power to your pens, Hannah and #JuneWebber.

 

Goodreads Author Blog – Dialogue in Books

I love dialogue in books as long as that conversation is moving the story on in some way. I need the characters to show me something either about themselves or the unfolding plot (and it is often both at the same time) for their conversation to grip me and keep me reading. It is something I have to watch with my own writing as I love setting up my characters for a good “chin wag” but it must always be relevant to the story. So if it isn’t, out it comes.

What I don’t like is where characters can sometimes tell each other stuff they clearly must know. I don’t buy the “character needs reminding” business here. It is usually done because the writer needs to get information across to a reader, they know they mustn’t “tell” the reader and are conscious they need to “show” the information.

I totally sympathise and it was something I did when I was starting out but with time and practice, you learn to be more confident in allowing your readers to work things out for themselves. Flash fiction writing with its limited word count really encourages that. So it is a question of putting in the right clues in the right way so readers do something to work with so they can figure things out for themselves.

I’ve learned over time to put in an odd line or two where I reveal something to a reader rather than have a pointless conversation between characters telling each other what they must already know. It takes less time and word count and you don’t switch your readers off with a conversation they will quickly sense is more to help the author out rather than to help the story along.

But when dialogue does what it is meant to do – move the story along, keep up pace etc., – then it is amongst my favourite parts of a book. I want to eavesdrop what the characters are saying because I know I am going to find out useful, interesting things. And often in dialogue the tension rachets up as well, which I also like.

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