CafeLit, Creativity Matters, and an Interview

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.

Screenshot of my stories on CafeLit and Friday Flash Fiction also taken by me and do check out both sites for fabulous tales.

A huge thanks to #PaulaRCReadman for hosting me on her blog this week, more details below. (Screenshot taken by me, Allison Symes, and do check out Paula’s blog).

Many thanks to #WendyHJones for supplying the book cover image for Creativity Matters.

Also thanks to #GillJames for supplying the cover for The Best of CafeLit 10.

As you’ll gather from those last three sentences, the week has got off to a cracking start! (Just a pity I can’t put in order somewhere for more of the same!).

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Facebook – General

Now, as promised yesterday, for news on the non-fiction writing front. I am delighted to now confirm my chapter in #WendyHJones’ Creativity Matters: Find Your Passion for Writing will be called Why Write Flash Fiction and Short Stories? It’s a great honour to be taking part and I am looking forward to being “between the covers” with a lovely range of fantastic authors here. More details to come soon.

And now I can show you the cover too!

It’s not been a bad start to the week, given my news on the fiction front yesterday!

Allison Symes - Contribution to Creativity Matters


Not one but two posts from me tonight. And exciting news to come on the non-fiction front tomorrow too!

But tonight I’m focusing on my fiction news. Now I mentioned yesterday The Best of CafeLit 10 is now out and the lovely #Paula R.C. Readman has interviewed me for her blog specifically about my contributions to this book.

A huge thank you to Paula for hosting me and I’m delighted to share the interview here. It was such fun to take part and always a joy to flag up CafeLit!


Screenshot 2021-07-06 at 20-15-21 Clubhouse Cafelit 10 Chat Allison Symes

More flagging up of the wonderful CafeLit tonight with my second post on this page tonight. I’m pleased to say my story, Choices, is now up on site.

This started life as a writing prompt I set for the Association of Christian Writers Flash Fiction Group and it was such fun to write up. Hope you enjoy it. My sympathy is entirely with Jamie here.

Screenshot 2021-07-06 at 20-19-54 Choices


Am thrilled to say The Best of CafeLit 10 is now available. I have two pieces in here – Breaking Out and Taking Time Out of the Day Job. (Am also thrilled to say I’ll have another story up on the CafeLit website tomorrow and am looking forward to sharing the link for that then – see above.).

A huge thanks to #GillJames and the team here for bringing out such wonderful collections of short stories. Many congratulations to the other authors who are “between the covers” with yours truly. Looking forward to hopefully being able to have a proper Bridge House Publishing/CafeLit/Chapeltown Books celebration get together later in the year. Missed that so much last year cancelled of course due to You Know What.

 


Hope you have had a good day. It was good to get out in the garden for a while earlier. I would never make any claim to be a “proper” gardener but tidying up where I needed to was strangely satisfying.

A huge thank you for the wonderful responses to When Is Wednesday?, my latest story on #FridayFlashFiction.

The feedback on this site is so useful and much appreciated. This particular story resonates as it is one I have written drawing on direct experience of how dementia can be on people. (My The Pink Rose tackles the same theme from a different angle in Tripping the Flash Fantastic. Hard stories to write? In some ways, yes. I always feel the “punch in the gut” reaction to moving stories but I should. Stories, even the funniest ones, should make you feel something).

Screenshot 2021-07-06 at 20-24-09 When is Wednesday by Allison SymesBookBrushImage-2021-7-2-19-2735

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Thanks for the great response to my Spring story video on Youtube yesterday. (I plan to write a post for Chandler’s Ford Today soon about Youtube for Authors and a huge thanks to the lovely #HelenMatthews for seeding that idea. I’m looking forward to sharing the second part of a great interview with her on CFT on Friday. Writers talking to each other = bouncing ideas around and fab conversations! And I know a good idea for a CFT post or a flash fiction story when I hear it. These days, I’ve learned to take said idea and run with it).

Mind you, if my heroine ate all the doughnuts in my latest video, she wouldn’t be running anywhere!). See below for the video link. (Am just hoping my Slimming World consultant likes this one!).

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As well as my new CafeLit story now being live on site (Choices – see my author page for the link), I’m pleased to now share my latest Youtube video. Hope you enjoy Spring, another acrostic tale. I think my Slimming World consultant would appreciate this one!

And on a dull, wet Monday night here in Hampshire, sharing stories online to me seems a great thing to do! Trust me, it was dull and very wet!

Delighted to have further publication news with The Best of Cafelit 10 now available in Kindle and paperback. I have two stories in here and am honoured as the stories in these collections are voted on by regular readers of CafeLit. Thank you to everyone who voted for my two pieces Breaking Out and Taking Time Out of The Day Job.

I have some lovely tasks to do this week as a result of the book being out. One is to let Amazon know I’m a contributor and get the book up on my Author Central Page(Now done – see below!).

I also need to contact Goodreads (again now done, see below!) but the other task is to update my records with ALCS, the Authors Licensing and Collecting Society. Plus I need to put my own book order in but these are jobs I will really enjoy doing over the next couple of days or so. Now done. Books on their way! And do register with ALCS if you’re a UK writer with publications out there. More below.

To all writers with publications out there, don’t forget to register with ALCS. You get free membership with them if you’re a member of the Society of Authors but you can join for a one-off lifetime fee of £36.00 if that doesn’t apply to you. Best of all, you don’t pay the £36.00 immediately. ALCS take that from the first payment they give you as you receive your share of monies from copyright licensing. And you can earn money year on year via ALCS. Definitely worth doing!

Screenshot 2021-07-06 at 20-35-17 Allison SymesScreenshot 2021-07-06 at 20-36-15 Author Dashboard


I mix up the moods of my stories as different characters face different things of course. Also Character A might be of the type to, say, not take a serious situation as well as they should do. Character B in the same situation might over-react to it. Both would be interesting takes on a story. What would make Character A “wake up” and do what has to be done? Can Character B be calmed down and enabled to resolve a situation (which they certainly wouldn’t do while over-reacting to it)?

My latest on #FridayFlashFiction is a moving one following a couple of light-hearted pieces by me on there but this is deliberate. Stories reflect life so naturally there should be funny ones, sad ones, and so on. What matters for any kind of story is the characters grip you and make you want to find out what happens to them. See above for story link.

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Goodreads Author Blog – Changes in Reading Tastes

How have your reading tastes changed over the years? My big love reading wise will always be fantasy (especially the humorous kind and you can’t beat Terry Pratchett’s Discworld for that) but I have also developed a taste for crime novels (on the lower end of the gory scale) and historical fiction.

I’ve also developed a taste for non-fiction and have enjoyed some of the Ben Macintyre books and London by Peter Ackroyd, books I wouldn’t have looked at only a few years ago.

Having a Kindle has encouraged me to explore more books too and I will use ebooks as a way of testing out books by authors new to me. I’ve also been reading more flash and short story collections. That of course is linked to my writing taking off in that direction. I want to read in the field I am in and am conscious I need to have a good reading diet of classic and contemporary fiction.

What is lovely is having books on my shelves (including the electronic one!) by writer friends. Becoming more involved in writing myself has led me to discovering what colleagues produce and I am reading more types of books and stories now than I’ve ever done.

So where has your reading journey taken you? Have you discovered a love for a genre new to you?

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Times and Story Games

Image Credit:  As ever, images are from Pixabay or Pexels unless otherwise stated.

Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

For my CFT post this week, I discuss the interesting times we’re living in right now but I also share thoughts and tips on how to start creative writing. I also share a story game which is good fun to play and can be played by all ages!

Any writer will tell you that writing is therapeutic and fun. Inventing your own people and situations stretches you, is good for the old brain, and is a lovely art form for those of us who can’t draw for toffee, sew etc (and yes that does include me). To have a finished piece of work is fabulous. You created that story. The buzz of that never palls.

So have fun. If you’ve wanted to try creative writing but have wondered where to start, have a look at my post. And writing just for the sheer fun of it is a great joy to do. It is how most of us, who have gone on to be published, started after all.

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It was emotional joining in with the applause for the NHS tonight. Plenty of cheering going on round my way too. Well done, everyone. More appreciation for what is so easily taken for granted is always a good thing.

In other news as they say, and as a flag up to other authors with works out there, if you’re not registered with ALCS, check it out. ALCS is the Authors Licensing and Collecting Society run by writers for writers. Am thrilled to say I’ve had my first modest but lovely payment through on this. Many thanks to ALCS. If you’ve got published works out there, join them! (It’s free if you’re a member of the Society of Authors too).

Writing wise, am editing a story for a competition and hope to get that submitted by the end of the week. Email submission was always a blessing but even more so now.

Keep well, keep safe, God bless. Happy reading and writing. Support Your Authors. Go on, you know you want to!

One thing that is always in the forefront of my mind whether I’m writing fiction or non-fiction is to keep the needs of my reader paramount. I have a mental image of who my ideal reader is likely to be and what they will like and naturally I then do my best to provide it – in terms of flash fiction, short story writing, and the blogging that I do.

One other advantage of reading well for writers is you have a ready made audience in yourself. You know what you like in a story. You know what you like in dialogue. You know what you like in genre and pace etc. You also know what you dislike in all of those things. So use that knowledge to help you tailor what you write. You won’t be the only one who likes or dislikes those things. That will help you hone in on who your ideal reader is going to be. You can then target your work much more efficiently.

Good luck!

 

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Hope to be drafting bits and pieces over the weekend. I draft potential blog posts as well as flash fiction and other stories. This has all proved useful when I’ve been pressed for time.

I hope to get a short story off for a competition tomorrow and then select a few others to have a crack at. It’s good to have something always on the go!

No chance whatsoever of boredom setting in, which is one of the things I love about writing. If I’m not writing, I’m editing and looking to make things better. That’s a challenge all by itself and it does me good I think to make sure I rise to said challenge.

Some aspects of editing are more fun than others to be honest but everything I’ve written has been drastically improved by the red pen. Nobody but nobody writes a perfect first draft first go. And I find there are always things I want to add in later to give extra depth to my characterisation, to make a scene make more sense etc. Those finishing touches make all the difference.

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When do I know a flash piece has worked?

Basically when it hits me emotionally, whether it is to make me laugh, cry, scream, or what have you. I think it is time for a laugh. Hope you enjoy the following. I’ve taken a different approach with this one. I’ve used an acrostic style but with the initial letter of the paragraph spelling out a word rather than the first letter of each sentence.

SPRING

S = Surprise, surprise! So good to see you! What’s up? You look like you’ve sucked a lemon marinated in vinegar. Have you?

P = Purpose? I thought it would cheer you up. And I know what I can do with my marinated lemons. Charming that is, I don’t think! I was trying to be nice.

R = Ring you first? Well yes I could have done but then there would be no surprise.

I = Intentions? No. Not to give you a minor heart attack. You are a misery tonight. See, I brought a box of doughnuts for us to share. Know how much you love them. See I was trying to be kind. Gavin won’t like it? Who the hell is Gavin?

N = Never again. You hate this sort of thing? Since when? And you still haven’t said who Gavin is! Is there something you should be telling me?

G = Gavin’s your Slimming World consultant. You joined tonight. And I know what I can do with those bloody doughnuts. Oh…

Allison Symes – 26th March 2020

(For #SianNdowora and all at SW in my part of the world with love).

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I don’t always know what length my flash fiction will be when I start writing it. This is particularly true when I use the random word/phrase/number generators.

For stories generated that way, I want to get my ideas down, hone and edit them, and then I see what I have left. When I’ve got the story as good as I can make it, I only then take a look at what the word count is for it. That will help me decide which market to send it to and of course markets and competitions have different requirements so there is a certain amount of automatic elimination here too.

For example, if a story works really well at 150 words, I’m leaving it there. I won’t be submitting it to the fabulous #ParagraphPlanet either given they want 75 words in total including the title. I would submit it to a competition or market which was for anything under 500 words, providing I was happy with that competition or market.

I can’t stress it enough but always check competitions and markets out. The reputable ones will be more than happy for you do to that. If a competition or market has FAQs, do check them out. Never be afraid to ask other writers either. This is where the support of writing pals makes a huge difference. You may not have heard of issues with Competition XXX but they may have done and you can check things out further based on what they tell you. I’ve had good cause to be grateful for people flagging things up to me.

Above all enjoy that story creation process. It is a wonderful thing.

Fairytales With Bite – Dodgy Magical Characters

Dodgy magical characters can range from the treacherous wizard to the sly underling who will always seize a chance to gain something for themselves, no matter who they sell out to do so.

Have a look when you’re outlining your story as to how they got to be like that, whether they have any regrets, whether there is any hope for them to be redeemed etc. The consequences of their actions should of course be played out in the story.

The possibility of someone being turned back from the dodgy path they are on increases tension and the reader’s interest. I’ve always taken more interest in characters where I think there is potential than in one where it is clear there is none whatsoever almost from the start. This is why I think Severus Snape is a fantastic character in the Harry Potter series.

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This World and Others – What Makes Your World Tick?

What is the driving force in the world of your characters? Is it local and/or national politics? (People are often affected by what happens locally than nationally, though at this time of the coronavirus pandemic everything and everyone is affected by what is going on. That is an unusual situation in the overall scheme of things though).

Do your characters ignore the reality of their created world and focus on what it is they have to achieve? Does that ignoring of reality affect the chances of a successful outcome? As well as thinking about what drives your characters, think about what drives their created world. You could use that to add extra problems and tensions for your characters to resolve before getting to their main purpose.

 

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