O Tidings…

Image Credit:-

All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated.

Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.

Facebook – General and Chandler’s Ford Today

O Tidings is the title for my Chandler’s Ford Today post this week and of course it comes from one of the lines from the carol God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen. That carol always puts me in mind of Dickens, A Christmas Carol etc. It just “takes me back in time” to that period every time I hear it.

I look at how tidings and the way we receive them has changed so much but I also long for a better balance between bad and good news, especially in a year when the tidings have been unremittingly grim. (And then in the next news report talk almost inevitably goes to people’s mental health declining and is it any wonder? I think we do need some good news in amongst the bad. I know we can’t avoid the latter but balance I think is important).

On a more positive note, and doing my bit to provide some balance,I also share some Christmassy flash fiction and micro stories which I hope do put a smile on your face.

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Had a wonderful time at the Christmas Book Hub online party on Facebook last night. Many thanks to the organisers, #AnnaMariaShenton and #PatriciaMOsborne. It was great fun.

It was lovely to “see” familiar faces there and make new online friends.

It was also a joy today to send a signed copy of Tripping The Flash Fantastic to #FrancescaCapaldiBurgess who won from my post on the Hub yesterday. Hope you enjoy the book, Francesca!

I shared a Christmassy story, The Help, from TTFF and that went down well. I am delighted to share it again here. Hope you enjoy!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pxtiAzRVOes&t=4s

Looking forward to taking part in the Christmas Book Hub event on Facebook later tonight, hence this early post from yours truly. I’ll be sharing a story from Tripping The Flash Fantastic and am looking forward to following all of the lovely and entertaining posts that will make for such a fun event later on. Given all of the live events have been cancelled, events like this one do much to cheer writers and readers up alike so three cheers for that!

My CFT post this week will, appropriately enough, be called O Tidings. I’ll be talking about how tidings have been shared, a little on how much communication has changed over the last twenty years, although I think it is fair to say an angelic visitation would still come as something of a surprise to most people! I’ll also be sharing some Christmassy flash fiction and some micro stories as part of this post. (I define micro stories as one/two-liners).

No post from me the following Friday!!! (I hope to have something up in the run up to New Year but Christmas Day is one of the few days of the year where I won’t be writing at all. I hope to do plenty of “story intake” though via favourite Christmas films and reading my gifts from Santa later on in the day. Christmas, for me, would not be the same without at least one book-shaped present under the tree but that is hardly a surprise and it does mean I am easy to buy for!).

And remember the best thing you can do for the writers in your life is (a) buy their books and (b) review them in the usual places! I can’t think of any writer who’d turn down those gifts!

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Hope you have had a good week. I’ve created a new flash fiction story called The Fairy’s Viewpoint which will, shortly, be on my website (right here, this is the only issue with preparing a post for Facebook and then putting it in my round-up here – sometimes things like this happen!) at https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com

N.B.  The Fairy’s Viewpoint is further down under the Fairytales with Bite section. Hope you enjoy it!

Great fun to write though I don’t know what cat owners will make of it! I hope that has intrigued you enough to pop over to my site later on and have a look. You will find the story under my Fairytales with Bite section for tonight’s round-up of my posts and blogs.

Just so you know, I do a twice weekly round up on the Blog section of my website and it is effectively a twice weekly mini-magazine. Good fun to do and it means I keep my website and blog up to date with fresh material on a regular basis. (N.B. As you good people who follow me already know but this is very much my marketing exercise for today and I hope the initial post on Facebook will draw people to this very website! I can but try!).

Hope to share the link to the radio broadcast of Up to Scratch either later this weekend or early next week. Well now is the time for Christmas stories after all!

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It was great fun taking part in the Christmas Book Hub Facebook event last night. My story video, The Help, went down well which was lovely (flash fiction is perfect for story videos!), but my night was made by being a prize winner in one of the events. I’ve already received my copy of the ebook but a parcel of other goodies is on its way to me. And yes I am a big kid here. Who doesn’t like a parcel full of goodies? A big thanks to #KatrinaHart and I am looking forward to reading her Lost Town of Man’s Crossing over the Christmas break.

Next week will be a little different obviously. There will be no Chandler’s Ford Today post from me on the 25th (even I like a day off now and again!) and I will collate my usual twice-weekly blog and posts round up into one edition on Tuesday, 22nd December with the next one to be on the following Tuesday, 29th December (and that will be a bumper edition). After that it will be back to business as usual.

I am hoping to have the first draft of my big project written by the end of the year and while that is resting for a while, I will be working on a third flash collection. I must admit though I am itching to get back to author events though and hope that will be possible from the spring/summer onwards.

Meanwhile, I am looking forward to my story, Up to Scratch, being broadcast on Hannah’s Bookshelf on North Manchester FM (hosted by Hannah Kate) this coming Saturday, 19th December between 2 pm and 4 pm. I hope to share the link to the broadcast later this week/early next week. Is it going to be odd hearing my story read by someone else? Yes, but in a very good way and it is a great way to wind down my writing year.

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Flash fiction is useful for events such as the Christmas Book Hub Facebook event I’ll be taking part in later on today. It’s easy to record on a phone and videos don’t take long to upload as a result. A short story to hopefully entertain people is just the ticket. So even if you don’t write flash fiction as a regular thing but write it occasionally, bear in mind the idea of using it as a way of drawing people in to see what else you write.

I don’t always produce videos for these. I sometimes just put the text up in posts like this one as you know but I must admit that now being hooked on Book Brush, the temptation to create something for the story is too much to resist! (And it’s another way of sharing stories too as proven below!).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OHdm95OBhmg

Fairytales with Bite – The Fairy’s Viewpoint

I thought I’d share a flash tale in the run up to Christmas for Fairytales With Bite and I think my character in this has plenty of bite to her! Hope you enjoy.

The Fairy’s Viewpoint
It’s that time of year again, is it? I swear it was only five minutes ago you put me back in the box for another year. Oh look at the dust on this dress. I don’t suppose there’s any chance of a new outfit? I wouldn’t mind a nice green number, perhaps with some gold stars on it. Still festive and it’s bound to be warmer than this silly tutu.
Oh you’re just going to shove me on top of the Christmas tree again, are you?
I wish I could say I was surprised.
I wish I was allowed to grant my own wishes. I’d conjure up my own outfits! Have a new one for each Christmas. Not much for a girl to ask for, is it?
At least the view from up here is good and I am well away from your perishing cat. I’ve never liked the way it looks at me. Trust me, Puss, if I could conjure up a spell or two, you would be showing me more respect and you can stop hissing. I know you know I’m talking to you. Bad luck, your human owners won’t understand you. Even if they did, they wouldn’t believe you!
Hmm… I do believe the humans have splashed out on new Christmas lights this year. Not before time to be honest. The last set were ancient. I like the blue and white motif. Hmm… maybe not the green dress then. Maybe a blue and white dress to fit in.
Puss, if you come any nearer this tree, I will kick the baubles off and they will hit you on the head. I always had a good aim when I was at fairy school. You are not coming up here to “nab” me.
Oh good, the human mum has grabbed you and put you in your cat basket. I hope she keeps you there. Still at least they don’t leave you alone with me in here. I think they don’t trust you with the tree. I don’t trust you with me!
Right, time to put on a good show. I do have a little magic still. I know how to make my hair, eyes, and silly tutu shine. Yes, there I go. The little girl is clapping and saying she likes my pretty dress. Hmm… let’s see. I’ll close my eyes and wish hard. Yes, done it. There’s a new present tucked under the tree. The cat is hissing. Tough, Puss, you’re not wearing the dress. She will be. Okay the parents are going to try and work out who sent it and probably have a row over it but their little girl will be happy. And she’s okay, unlike you, wretched cat.
I suppose I’d better conjure something up for the boy. He’s not bad. He can have a Lego kit. He likes the stuff and has got a knack with it. And his parents can row over that too… unless.
The fairy smiled despite feeling more tired in years. It has been a long time since I performed so much magic but this family have had a tough year and if ever there was the time to bring them some cheer, this year is it.
Under the tree now, were two bottle shaped presents. The parents will appreciate that at the end of Christmas Day, I’m sure.
The fairy peered into the cat basket. Oh all right, Puss. One more wish. And don’t wreck the toy mouse all at once. It would be nice if it could see Boxing Day.
The fairy chuckled quietly. There was no chance of that wish coming true… none whatsoever.

Allison Symes – 17th December 2020

Hope you enjoyed that! It was great fun to write. And if you’d like to explore of my flash fiction, please check out both of my flash collections at:-

http://mybook.to/FromLightDarkBackAgai
http://mybook.to/TrippingFlashFantastic

BookBrushImage-2020-11-14-19-1939BB - blue poster for books

This World and Others – Music

What role does music play in your fictional world? I can’t imagine a world without some kind of music. Nor do I wish to! Along with the gift of literacy, I think music is one of the most important things we have as a species. And I write listening to classical music. It relaxes me and I write better (and more) when I’m in that state!

So in your fictional work, which kinds of music do your characters enjoy listening to or is music saved for the elite? What instruments exist? Are there choirs? Is singing encouraged or frowned on? (I like the idea of underground choirs – those who defy the rules to sing though they would have to keep the volume down!).

I’ve been singing along to the carols on Classic FM and glad to do so. I always enjoy this but never more than this year when singing is restricted at best. (As I write this in December 2020, I still can’t sing in church though I can listen to live music).

And if singing and music is “normal” in your fictional world, what could take it away from your characters? I personally can’t write about the pandemic much, I want to escape with my stories and blogs. There is likely to be a spate of pandemic stories so I think it would be useful to come up with something different which takes music and things like that away from your fictional people.

Spider diagrams can be useful when roughing out ideas. You can then follow the thread of the most promising line of thought. Incidentally if music is taken away in your creation, it won’t be the only thing removed. And whoever or whatever does the removing should have good reasons for doing so.

 

Mulling Over Story News

Image Credit:-

All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated.

Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.

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

Facebook – General

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

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

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

Mulling It Over and Transformations under the Christmas tree


Lots happening this week.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

 


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

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

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

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

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

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


Goodreads Author Blog – Books FOR Santa.

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

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

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

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

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

 

Twitter Corner

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Introducing Dawn Knox – The Chronicles Continue.

Image Credit:-

All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated.

Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.

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

Image of Wendy H Jones kindly supplied for her.

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

Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

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

Feature Image - Dawn Knox interview Part 1

The Macaroon Chronicles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oh and keep on writing and submitting of course!

Happy writing!

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

From Light to Dark and Back Again

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

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

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

Now I mention this for two reasons:-

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

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

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

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

We would be so pleased to hear from you!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fairytales With Bite – Twists and Turns

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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This World and Others – What Is Normal?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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