Review: Pinocchio – The Chameleon Theatre Group – Pantomime and Potential

Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated with many created in Book Brush. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes.
A huge thank you to The Chameleon Theatre Group for kind permission to use their photos in my Chandler’s Ford Today post this week reviewing their performance of Pinocchio. Did I have a good time at the pantomime recently ? Oh yes I did! More below.

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Am delighted to share my review of Pinocchio, the latest production staged by the Chameleon Theatre Group. I also take a look at some of the traditions of pantomime and the theme of this one. I review the performance, nominate my costume of the show (a first for me when it comes to reviewing shows but it was an outstanding costume – see what you think), and discuss whether this role is the only one where an actor is expected to “act wooden”.

I also flag up The Chameleons’ next performance in April, which will be a series of three plays. As ever, a big thank you to them for providing the photos.

And if you’re not in my part of the world, do take the time to check out your local theatre groups. Expect to find gems. I’ve lived where I do for thirty years but have only known about The Chameleons over the last few years. And I would say taking in shows like this one is another way of taking in stories – you’re hearing them and watching them being acted out. It’s a hugely enjoyable experience too.

Do check out the post on Chandler’s Ford Today. I had a great deal of fun coming up with captions for the wonderful photos!

Review: The Chameleon Theatre Group – Pinocchio

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Hope you have had a good day. Weather significantly milder which has been lovely and Lady got to play with her best friends today so she had a lovely time.

Now a good definition of a lovely time for me is having written something I like which has potential. Another good definition is having edited something to get it to that potential. And then there’s putting down a good book, having had a wonderful read, and not really wanting to leave the characters behind. That is a sign of a truly great story. It also inspires me to always up my own game (and that’s a good thing. We should be trying to improve on what we do, writing wise).

I’ve talked before about making the most of whatever writing time you have. I always do this but right now I’m doing so more! Why?

I do a behind the scenes the job and it is particularly busy at the moment. So I relish my time when I get to write and feel both tired and refreshed after said writing session. How can I be both?

Well, creative writing should stretch you mentally and that is tiring but I also find it invigorating. I always feel better after having written something even if it is not as much as I would’ve liked to have achieved. What matters is getting something down. It is the getting to be creative at all which matters here I think.

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Looking forward to sharing my review of Pinocchio as performed by the Chameleon Theatre Group in my post on Chandler’s Ford Today on Friday. See above.

Great fun and I have a soft spot for pantomime given they are based on the classic fairytales.

Author newsletter out today (and welcome to those who have subscribed since my last one, also thanks to those who continue to subscribe – all appreciated I can assure you).

Now when I am blogging, whether it is for Chandler’s Ford Today, Authors Electric, or More than Writers in particular, how do I think of the theme given these are not set by anyone else?

Sometimes the time of year inspires the theme (this is especially true for More Than Writers where I will write something Easter/Christmas related etc at the apt times). I usually draw on the writing journey – my personal one and the journey in general.

One thing I love about creative writing is you never stop learning. This can be from your mistakes. It can be from tips you pick up on the way and I can usually find an aspect of these things to make a good theme to write about. But the important thing here is I am writing about something I absolutely love and this I find is continually sustaining. I also make sure there is something of value to the reader and, as with my fiction, I keep my Ideal Reader in mind, always. It helps with focus too.

 

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Pleased to be back on Friday Flash Fiction with one of those tales I think a lot of people will identify with – forgetting to buy something while out shopping. Hope you enjoy my latest tale, The Milk.


Screenshot 2023-02-03 at 09-43-43 The Milk by Allison Symes

Don’t forget the February issue of Mom’s Favorite Reads is out. I talk about the Year of the Rabbit in my flash fiction column this time. How can I get a flash story out of that? Did others respond to my challenge? Yes I did. So did they. Check the magazine to find out more. Also check out the Meet the Team feature which starts on Page 28.

 

 

Don’t forget author reviews are a great way of supporting a writer. They don’t have to be long. Okay, I know I would be found to say that as flash fiction writer, but it is true. Reviews can be a line or two. As well as being encouraging to the writer, a thoughtful review can be a great guide for other readers.

Do I review books myself? Oh yes. Not every single thing I read, I admit, but I make sure I do review reasonably regularly. Being a writer makes me more aware of the need to do it, I suppose, but reviews are never a waste of time. And they are appreciated.

Likewise, useful comments on a blog you’ve liked are also appreciated. It’s another kind of review! Also another way of supporting other writers.

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Fairytales with Bite – Favourites and Dislikes

What do you think are the favourite ingredients of a classic fairytale? What are the dislikes?

My favourite ingredients are:-

  • Sympathetic lead character I can root for – usually down on their luck or ill-treated or overlooked in some way but capable of greatness.
  • A villain I really want to see get their comeuppance.
  • Magic coming to the aid of the sympathetic lead character but they also have to put the work in and prove themselves worthy of that assistance.
  • And I have a very soft spot for a smart animal character who is often wiser than the humans around them.

As for my dislikes:-

  • Cruelty though I know it is unavoidable – you do need the conflict and resolution.. Much as I hate to say it, there usually does have to be some sort of cruelty done to the lead character. There has to be something they have to be delivered from in some way. One thing I’ve always loved about the fairytales is I know the cruelty will stop and there ill be a good ending. Of if only we could say the same about life!
  • The animal characters not being appreciated for their wit and wisdom. Too easily looked down on.
  • A villain who is NOT a worthy opponent for the lead character (what I don’t want is a character who is just a cruel clown).
  • Magic being used as a “cop-out” – there has to be a point to it being used and where there is o viable alternative. For me, it then works.

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This World and Others – The Law

How does the law work in your fictional setting? Is there a criminal/civil law distinction as we have? Or is there just one law, such as martial law? How did the laws come about and have any been modified over the years? Who works in the law in your stories? Is this considered to be a good occupation or not by the ordinary people/beings ruled over?

How severe are punishments? Are your characters rewarded for obeying the law of are they ruled via fear? Who brings about changes to the law and how long did it take them?

The above questions I hope would all start triggering potential story ideas. But even if this isn’t your story directly, thinking about these things will give you a clearer idea as to your setting, how it works as a society. and how your characters are likely to interact with it. Your view of the law will depend on which side of it you are on after all!

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Classic Stories

Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated with many created in Book Brush. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes.
Hope you have had a good week. Very busy one for me. Not sorry the weekend is almost here as I share this. Looking forward to visiting a local pantomime and winding down on Sunday, I hope.

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Facebook – General and Chandler’s Ford Today

Delighted to share Classic Stories, my post for Chandler’s Ford Today this week. I look at what I think makes a story qualify as being a classic and share some of my favourites. I also take a peek at inspirational stories (which so often go on to become classics) and what we can learn from classic tales. Hope you enjoy and do share some of your classics in the comments box.

Classic Stories

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Looking forward to sharing Classic Stories, my latest post for Chandler’s Ford Today. Link to go up tomorrow. Heading off to the local panto on Saturday – oh yes I am! Will review in due course for CFT. Looking forward to seeing what The Chameleon Theatre Group “do” with Pinocchio – I do know it will be a lot of fun!

When you’re thinking of characters for your stories, where do you start? I often look at major traits as they are a great way in to find out what you need to know. If someone is honest, they can also be tactless (just how honest is honest?!). And that just names one example. Also you can use traits like this to set up characters who have the exact opposite trait and really set the fireworks going here as the two characters will inevitably clash.

Don’t forget my author newsletter goes out on the first of the month so do head over to my landing page at https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com if you would like to sign up. And a big welcome to those who have joined up since last time.

 

Hope you have had a good day. I was chatting earlier today about favourite characters (of my own and those of other authors) and I picked one of each. It was hard to pick just one. I love a whole range of characters in literature and so much depends on what I feel like reading. If I’m in the mood for a crime novel, one of my favourite characters will be in one of those books somewhere! If I’m up for humorous fantasy, as I so often am, well it’s Sam Vimes from the much missed Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series all the way here. So how would you make a selection here?

Strong characters play a pivotal role in helping us decide whether a story works at all or not

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Pleased to be back on Friday Flash Fiction with my latest tale, Why Now? Find out why my character, Bella, really dislikes government inspections. Hope you enjoy.

On a separate note, I did enjoy receiving the latest delivery of my two flash fiction collections today – From Light to Dark and Back Again and Tripping the Flash Fantastic – to replenish my stocks. Always lovely opening parcels like that!
Screenshot 2023-01-27 at 09-19-55 Why Now by Allison Symes

Had a lovely time at the Association of Christian Writers Flash Fiction group last night (25th January 2023) on Zoom. Got chatting about favourites – tips, word counts etc and also at some of the downsides of favourites. I deliberately mix up the random generators I use for example so I am not just confined to using a couple of them. Also stretching myself by trying something new here has helped me find stories I would never have written otherwise and I like that too.

May be an image of text that says "I use random question generators to trigger ideas for topics. DID YOU SMILE TODAY Instead ofapplying a question like this to yourself, apply it to your character. What would be the answer? What made them smile? What made them NOT smile?"

One of the lovely things about flash fiction is I get to invent characters all the time. Sometimes I use a character in more than one flash tale and that’s fine too. But I have always loved inventing my own people and given flash has to be character led, (no room for convoluted plots etc), I get to create lots of different people (and other beings) and put them in interesting situations, sometimes funny, sometimes anything but. It is a joyous thing to do and yet another reason to heartily recommend giving flash fiction writing a go.

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Fairytales With Bite – Themes from the Pantomimes

I will be going to see my local amateur theatre’s production of Pinocchio soon and this led to my thinking about the themes behind so many of the pantomimes, which in turn often come from the classic fairytales.

Pinocchio – theme of acceptance.

The Ugly Duckling – also has the theme of acceptance but I would add in a second theme of not judging someone by their looks.

Beauty and the Beast – Love conquers all, don’t judge by appearances and, for the Beast, this is particularly true given he was cursed by an old woman he insulted, not realising she was a powerful magical being. Third theme here: don’t misjudge older characters!

Cinderella – Love conquers all/right will be done eventually (though I would still be cross with the fairy godmother for turning up so late if I was Cinders. She could’ve done with help much earlier on in the story!).

Aladdin – Theme of rough diamond winning through, also of not letting setbacks get in the way.

Puss in Boots – Cats are smarter than you think!

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This World and Others – Entertainment

Often going to see a pantomime is someone’s first experience of live theatre and that’s a great thing as it encourages going again to see other pantomimes before going on to try other forms of theatrical entertainment. I’ve found National Theatre Live a great way to discover Shakespeare but my early experiences of theatre were the pantomimes.

In your fictional setting, which forms of entertainment exist? Is the government here a big believer in the “bread and circuses” policy adopted by the Romans who thought, as long as people had those things, they wouldn’t cause trouble? Does it work in your setting?

How long have these entertainments been on offer and have they developed from something even further back in time for your world? Are there forms of entertainment which would not be tolerated in any circumstances? Are there forms of prescribed entertainment your characters have to go to, regardless of their own feelings in the matter? Are there underground/fringe entertainments?

Now I am very glad that things like bear baiting no longer exist in my part of the world but this was part of my country’s history for a very long while. So how does your fictional setting decide which entertainment should not happen any more and what are the driving forces behind this?

Do your characters make their living in the entertainment industry?> Is this well regarded or not and how do your characters feel about it? There are story ideas here!

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Writing Pitfalls

Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated with many created in Book Brush. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes. Hope you have had a good week. Lady and I spent most of the week failing to duck the rain clouds but she did get to play with several of her friends. Am looking forward to running a workshop soon. Will be good to be out and about, writing wise, again.

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Facebook – General and Chandler’s Ford Today

Glad to share my latest Chandler’s Ford Today post. This week I talk about Writing Pitfalls. I talk about rejections and con artists, writing, editing and stamina (all three things are crucial for writers), support networks, and competitions and trying again, amongst other items here. Hope you find the post useful.

Writing Pitfalls

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Questions make a great way into a story. For example, there is a great cartoon doing the rounds on Facebook at the moment where the punchline is a question – why are you here?

Now your story could be about a character who answers that question for themselves or for someone close to them. It could be an excellent title. I would want to know who the “you” is here and why this question would be asked of them in the first place. It could be a story about a character reacting badly to that question.

Maybe it is something which has haunted them and they decide to find their own place in the world to prove if only to themselves they have every right to be where they are. I hope to write something up on this question in due course myself but it’s a great open question to play with here, I think.

May be an image of ocean and text that says "Questions are a great hook A reader knows they have to be answered. Only way to find out how is to read the piece."

Lady had an excellent day today. Got to play with all of her girlfriends – it was a fab “puppy party”. We managed to avoid most of the wet weather today as well so consider that a win. Looking forward to sharing Writing Pitfalls, my Chandler’s Ford Today post this week. Link up on Friday. See above.

Also looking forward to seeing the Chameleon Theatre Group put on their new show – Pinocchio – later this month. Oh yes I am! (Can’t help but wonder what topical gags will end up in that though – will find out in due course!).

Writing Tip: Every so often look up some of your earlier writing pieces. I do this and I can see why I wrote the pieces in the way I did at the time. I can also see what I would do now to “tighten” those pieces up further. This is a good thing. It brings home how much you’ve learned over the intervening time and I find this encourages me to keep on going and to keep on learning.

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It’s lovely to be back on Friday Flash Fiction. This time I share an acrostic story, Friends. Hope you enjoy it. (I find acrostics work best for shortish words).

Screenshot 2023-01-13 at 09-32-23 Friends by Allison SymesI’ll be looking at Writing Pitfalls for Chandler’s Ford Today this week (an overview). Link up tomorrow. See further up.

Pitfalls about writing flash fiction? Well, one is when you swear you’ve got the perfect 100 word story for a competition and find your tale really does need to be at 300 words!

If you find your story would lose something (characterisation, a good telling detail etc) if you were to cut your story back further, then leave it as it is and write another 100 word story instead. Part of the art of flash fiction is in knowing when to leave well alone and in knowing what must be in your tale. When you’ve got to that point, your story is done. You worry about the word count later.

May be an image of text that says "Flash fiction illuminates briefly it is a great form for a lighthearted piece. These often work best when kept short."

When I run flash workshops, I will often read a couple of my stories out and then break down how I wrote them. I’ve come across this technique in various author interviews I’ve read/listened to and always find it helpful. Having an outline (even if sometimes it is just a line or two) helps me to remember why I’m writing the story in the way I am and I find that useful too. It is too easy to go off at a tangent – have done this and where you’ve got a strict word count, you do have to focus.

Outlining makes me do that but it also gives me enough of a break down of my tale to be able to share when I want to share writing advice. And with flash stories, this can be done quickly. At events, I’m often asked what flash is and reading some out is a perfect demonstration. I often read stories out at home to ensure dialogue flows as well as I think it does etc. This is all useful “stuff”.

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Fairytales With Bite – Openings

How can you make use of openings in your magical settings? Well other than the famous starting line Once upon a time… there are other ways of doing this.

Think about openings for the beings who populate your world. As well as training schools for magical beings, what job opportunities await them? How do they work their way up the ladder? If your world keeps itself to itself, can openings be found to initiate dialogue with neighbouring worlds? Who would see the usefulness of being able to do this and “break the mould”?

If your setting covers up part of its history, what would persuade it that it would be better to “open up” and face the fact no world is perfect? Also have changes come into your setting since that history and are these positive or negative?

Even where characters and/or the setting itself is prepared to open up, there will be those who oppose that. Who are these people, what can they do to prevent such opening up happening, and how are they dealt with by those who see the necessity to be more open?

Opening can represent changes and not everyone welcomes those, sometimes for good reasons, other times definitely not. So how could you make use of the theme of opening in your stories? There are ideas to be explored here.

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This World and Others – Networking

When I was starting out as a writer, the thought of networking used to terrify me. It was only when I realised all it meant was talking about something I love (writing and books) with others who appreciated talking about such things I realised it wasn’t something to be worried about. Also when I realised writers have the perfect way into starting conversation (”what do you write?”), I lost my fear. I knew I had something to ask the person opposite me and it would get a chat going. And so it has proved!

How would networking occur in your fictional setting? Is it encouraged or not? Are there rules so you can only mix with certain groups? What kind of technology is available and how is that used for networking? Is networking only saved for, say, the creative arts sector?

What kind of colloborations occur as a result of networking? How does networking benefit your individual characters? Also think in terms of personal development as well s financial benefit here. Could a shy person, for example become less shy thanks to the right kind of networking for them?

Does your world network with neighbouring ones and how well does that work or otherwise? Does your setting have the equivalent of an “entente cordiale”?

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Diaries and Letters


Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. (Many created in Book Brush). Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes. Hope you have had a good start to 2023. It is lovely being back at the writing desk. Look out for a useful writing exercise in my Chandler’s Ford Today post this week. Hope you give it a go and find it useful.

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Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

Am pleased to share my first Chandler’s Ford Today post for 2023 where I take a look at Diaries and Letters.

I look at the joys of reading books of these as well as explore using these formats in my own flash fiction writing. I also discuss the usefulness of keeping a diary (not just for noting down what I’ve got to do and when but also for reviewing where I am with my writing and to set goals). I also share a useful creative writing exercise here.

Hope you enjoy the post and hope you have had a good first week “back to normal”.

Diaries and Letters

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Looking forward to sharing Diaries and Letters for my Chandler’s Ford Today post tomorrow. See above – this is one of those posts where I have to watch my spelling. It’s difficult reading and/or writing dairies!

I love reading and writing both formats! Am looking forward to sharing more author interviews later on in the year and am glad to say I’ll be taking part in another writer’s blog in March. More details nearer the time. Also looking forward to running another flash fiction workshop later this month.

Hope to get back to work soon on a major project I had to shelve last year (due to my wanting to get my third flash fiction book submitted). Looking forward to that too. I’ve got a rough draft done on it but know it needs plenty of honing.

Have you set any writing goals you want to achieve this year? I like to have a rough idea of what I’d like to see done in the period and deliberately have a mixture of goals I know I’ll achieve quickly as well as the longer ones. It is nice being able to tick things off my “list”.

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Hope you have had a good day. Weather a lot better than yesterday – Lady and I didn’t get wet! It is the simple pleasures in life etc etc…

Am currently reading a biography of the late Queen by Gyles Brandreth (and loving it). Then I’m on to a crime novel. I like mixing things up! I read in different formats too (and I’ll be looking at some formats of story writing in the forms of diaries and letters for my next Chandler’s Ford Today post too. I often read books of letters and diaries – do check these out. They’re illuminating. I’ve written in both diary and letter formats too).

Writing Tip: Given you’re going to be spending some time with your characters (and yes that applies even to a flash piece), it does pay to get to know them a bit. If you could write a letter to your leading character, what would you put in it and why? Give some thought as to how they would reply to you. You’ll get insights into their personality doing this.

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

It’s great to be back on Friday Flash Fiction with my story The First Day. An apt title for the first week in the New Year, I think. Hope you enjoy. (Also many thanks for the comments coming in on this already but I think you’ll like my characters in this one).

Screenshot 2023-01-06 at 09-18-42 The First Day by Allison Symes

If you want to practice writing short in a way that helps other writers, how about writing a review of their books? It helps authors with publicity and is the second best way to help them (the first is to buy said books of course). The great thing with reviews is they don’t have to be long.

Talking of writing short, I must admit I did find the strapline for both of my collections tough to come up with – I knew what I wanted to say but it was condensing it down enough that was the issue. Still I got there in the end.

For From Light to Dark and Back Again, the strapline reads A collection of very short stories to suit every mood.

For Tripping the Flash Fantastic, it reads A carefully crafted collection of story worlds.

It is funny how writing short is so often more difficult than writing long!If you’ve got ideas for possible strap lines or even words you’d like to use in a strapline, jot them down somewhere safe. Never assume you’ll remember. You don’t, honestly.

Flash with Amazon and Barnes and Noble

I mentioned over on my main author page on Facebook about getting to know your characters. There are various ways of doing this. For flash fiction, you may not need to know so much. I often use a template to help me work out what I think I need to know. One or two pertinent questions can draw out a lot of information! It’s working out what you need to know I think which can be the tricky bit.

I know I need to know a character’s major trait and why it is that one. Others may need to know what they look like and deduce their personality from the type of clothes they like to wear etc. But as long as you know what makes them tick, that’s the important thing. You do have to convince ourself you know these people and therefore can write their stories up with conviction. You know X would react like this to Y because… etc etc

May be an image of text that says "".. Understanding what makes US tick is crucial for understanding what makes your characters tick."

Fairytales with Bite – New Year Acrostic (Writing Tips)

N = New Year = New start – do your magical characters need this and, if so, why?
E = Explore what your characters would do when dropped right in the mire. This can be great fun!
W = Work out what your characters could do with in the way of worthy opponents. You mustn’t make life too easy for them.

Y = You decide how magic works in your setting and whether your characters can all have the same powers or have the potential to develop them.
E = Eagerness to gain power – which of your characters have this? Why? What would they do with that power if they got it?
A = Always know what your characters are doing and what their motivations are. These need to be motivations readers understand but we don’t necessarily have to like them.
R = Read through your stories and check for consistency. If your character changes behaviour patterns, there has to be a good reason for that, again something readers can identify with. Were they “redeemed” or “corrupted”? What are the consequences of the changes? Your stories need to play this out.

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This World and Others – Starting Over

This is an apt topic for the start of another year (and Happy New Year!). Many stories show characters starting over (and my favourite here is A Christmas Carol by Dickens).

But give some thought as to whether your setting needs to start over. Has there been a climate catastrophe in your world where agriculture, industry etc all need to start again? What caused the disaster? How have your characters recovered from it? What changes have had to be forced on them? Which have they happily adopted?

Also there are personal disasters for your individual people. What form(s) do these take? How did your characters start over or have they never been able to really recover? What are the consequences of not being able to start over?

How would the history of your world impact on those living in it now? Is there history they prefer to forget (and so have “started over” by focusing on the history they are happy about?). Starting over can be an artificial concept exploited by the powerful so you could explore what they are trying to bury here.

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Positives and Negatives

Image Credits:- All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Many created via Book Brush. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots as ever were taken by me, Allison Symes.
I hope you have had a lovely Christmas. This is a round up of my posts from Christmas Eve until now. Loved having some time off (and especially with catching up with friends, family, and favourite films) but it is also good to be back writing again. Happy New Year to you all.

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Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

30th December 2022
A bit later than usual tonight, I admit, but it is with great pleasure I share my last Chandler’s Ford Today post for the year. Aptly, I look at Positives and Negatives. Hope you enjoy the post and a big thank you for the great comments coming in on this one already.

Positives and Negatives

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29th December – More Than Writers
It’s my turn on the More Than Writers spot, the blog from the Association of Christian Writers. To wrap up the old year nicely as we rapidly approach the new one, I look at New Directions.

I look at being willing to try new writing directions and I encourage setting writing goals. Nothing is set in stone here (only the Ten Commandments ever were!) but it is useful to know where you would like to head. I’ve found setting some ideas down means I am more likely to achieve them (or at least get close to doing so). Hope you enjoy the post.

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28th December
Hope you have a lovely Christmas break (and are continuing to enjoy the season). It has been great catching up with family and friends and favourite films. Am also loving having more time to read but it is also nice to be back writing again.

I’m looking at Positives and Negatives for my end of year post for Chandler’s Ford Today. Link up on Friday. See above. My next blog round up on my website will also be out on Friday (right here in fact!) with my next author newsletter out on 1st January. If you’d like to sign up for that do head over to my landing page at https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com

Also looking forward to tonight’s gathering of the Association of Christian Writers Flash Fiction Group on Zoom. Will be nice to have a chat and sharing of festive flash fiction.

25th to 27th December – no posts but had a lovely time. Hope you did too.

24th December 2022
Hope your Christmas preparations are going/have gone well. Have loved listening to the wonderful Christmas music on Classic FM today. I’ll be signing off for a couple of days before resuming writing next week. I hope you have plenty of books as part of your presents this year!

Have a lovely Christmas and many thanks for all the support for my posts etc throughout the year. Much appreciated.

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30th December 2022
Hope you have had a good day. I was talking about Positives and Negatives as my end of year post for Chandler’s Ford Today this week.

But it struck me you could take the idea of positives and negatives and use them to create stories for your characters.

You could create a positive story for Character A and follow it up with a more negative one (or vice versa).

You could have a “need to be redeemed” story as the negative tale and the “being redeemed” story as your positive one, all based on the same character.

You can also have positive and negative characters in conflict with each other – which one will win out?

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29th December
It was lovely seeing everyone at the Association of Christian Writers Flash Fiction group meeting on Zoom last night. We shared festive flash and writing thoughts/tips. Great fun and a lovely way to wrap up the year.

One thing I mentioned last night was that festive flash is about the only seasonal writing I do (because it’s fun, best reason of all!). The nice thing with any kind of seasonal writing though is you can prepare for these events all year around. I will often draft festive flash pieces during the summer and autumn for instance. You know these events will always come around so you can make use of that.

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28th December
Hope you have had a lovely Christmas and are continuing to enjoy the season. Hope you had plenty of books in your presents, including flash fiction collections!

I hope to start sending in stories again to Friday Flash Fiction from next week. One thing I’d like to achieve in the coming year is to enter more flash competitions than I did this year. I would certainly have a go at Flash NANO again. Loved that.

Writing a flash tale a day helps keep writer’s block at bay, anyone?

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25th to 27th December – no posts but had a lovely time. Hope you did too.

24th December
Time for a quick Christmas flash tale. Hope you enjoy the following, Being There.

 

Fairytales With Bite – A New Year, A New Start

A new year can be a great time to make a new start but how would your characters do that? Why would they need to make a new start? If they’re magical, what have they done to make a new start desirable? (Good comic potential here).

Of course there are characters who don’t realise they do need a new start. (Scrooge didn’t think he did before the ghosts turned up). Who would be the one to bring this to their attention and how does your main character take this? There would be good potential for comedy or tragedy if they don’t react well.

In the case of a character with power, if they decide to make a new start, whose benefit is it for? Are they accepting the needs for beneficial reforms or are they trying to take rights away? A new start isn’t always a good thing!

Also, are they using the New Year as a convenient time for them (people may not be paying full attention after all) or is there another reason for making a new start now? Are they trying to head off further problems by making a new start “early” or have they left it too late?

AE - July 2021 - Whether you love or loathe the characters, they should make you feel something

This World and Others – Keeping Time

How does your setting keep time? Do they use the same system of seconds, minutes, hours, day, weeks, months, and years as we do? We base our calendar on twelve months but if your world bases theirs on a ten month system what is the reason for that? Are your characters dominated by time? (They might not be if they’re immortal or have something close to immortality so how would they get on with species where time is a matter of life and death?).

As for timekeeping, do your characters run to time or are they notoriously late? Does this land them in it? How do people tell the time? What are their time pieces like? I must admit I love looking at pictures of old time pieces (especially pocket watches which come up on the antiques programmes every so often. I am taken aback by the beauty of these things and how exquisitely they’re made. The craftsmanship is amazing. Does your setting have craftsman like that and how did they learn their trade? How is time kept? Is it accurate?).

Could another character use someone’s obsession with time against them and, if so, how? Could time prove to be deadly to a character? If you portray Time as a character, what is their role in your setting? Are they controlled by anyone else? What would happen if Time was allowed to do as he/she/it liked? Are there boundaries for Time?

Story ideas there, I think!

Characters need time to work out their next move
Goodreads Author Blog – Christmas and Books

I hope you end up with plenty of new books as Christmas presents this year. It is especially comforting to read when in the depths of winter. All you need to go with that new book is a lovely mug of hot chocolate. Perfect reading conditions! Christmas is the perfect time to give and receive new books. (And it always pays to keep the hot chocolate in!).

I hope the New Year will see plenty of interesting new books to investigate. I’ve submitted my own third flash fiction collection for consideration so am keeping fingers crossed for that one. Would love to see that out in 2023.

Whatever your choice of reading material, I hope you have a lovely Christmas and get plenty of reading done. Let’s hear it for the hardbacks, the paperbacks, the e-books, the novellas, the novels, the short story and flash fiction collections, and the non-fiction selections. Let’s read!

Happy Christmas!

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Festive Flash and Other News

Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. One image directly from Pixabay. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes, as were the pictures of my local post box with additional festive “toppers” as I believe they are known.
Will shortly be taking a few days off for Christmas so my next round-up on my website will be a week today, Friday 30th December. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas. Back soon!

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Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

It is with great pleasure I share Festive Flash and Other News for Chandler’s Ford Today this week. I share two new flash tales as part of this and have a look back at my writing year.

I share the links to the recent fun and fabulous Three Minute Santas show hosted by Hannah Kate on North Manchester FM and the link to the Flash NANO podcast I was on with Wendy H Jones as an episode of her excellent The Writing and Marketing Show a little while ago. It has been an interesting year and I hope 2023 proves to be equally or more interesting, writing wise. Hope you enjoy the post.

Festive Flash and Other News

 

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Hope you have had a good day. Finally got around to doing some present wrapping – yes, I know! Plan to finish tomorrow (probably just in time for my Christmas food shop delivery!). Trickiest one to wrap for? My dog – because she is with me all the time. Managed it though!

Just to flag up I will be taking a break over the Christmas weekend from social media, my blog posts etc. I hope to have another blog round up out on Friday and then again on 30th December. I hope you have a lovely Christmas and that there are plenty of books for you under the tree!

Am looking forward to a social meet up on Zoom next week with the good people from the Association of Christian Writers Flash Fiction Group. Three of us had stories on the Hannah Kate Three Minutes Santa show recently (North Manchester FM). Well done, everyone!

BookBrushImage-2022-12-21-9-3344I’ll be sharing a couple of new flash stories as part of my Festive Flash and Other News post for Chandler’s Ford Today this week. Link up on Friday. See above.

Am loving joining in with the carols on Classic FM though so far I have resisted the temptation to sing the alternative words to While Shepherds Watched. (While Shepherds washed their socks by night, All seated on the ground, a Bar of Sunlight soap came down, and they began to scrub. My late mum always sang that version with glee! I will almost certainly sing the alternative version on Christmas Day itself and think of Mum).

Talking of treasured memories, give some thought as to which memories your characters would treasure and why. Have they remembered things correctly? What actions do their memories encourage them to do and what are the consequences? There are story possibilities there. Also, I find a character sharing with me a s a reader a fleeting thought tends to make that character seen more real to me though the memory they share should have bearing on the story.

Couldn’t resist re-sharing these pictures of my local post box. Well done to whoever made these. I’ve been seeing a number of pictures like these throughout the UK – very cheering!

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Am looking forward for a social catch up with members of the Association of Christian Writers Flash Fiction group next week.

Am already starting work on a potential fourth flash fiction collection (my goal would be to have a first draft of that ready by this time next year, God willing). Would like to try to enter more flash competitions next year too.

Hope your festive preparations are going well (and it would never surprise me if there are several flash fiction pieces inspired by such preparations! I hope you have fun writing those up!).

Hope there are plenty of flash fiction collections amongst this lot!

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Quick shout-out to say the submissions button is back on Friday Flash Fiction. See link

Must admit I don’t know if I’ll get to submit anything this week given my usual writing day for this is Sunday – and something else is happening on that day!

But you can still treat yourself to a great read of the stories on there. Regular submission of work is the best way I know to increase your chances of having acceptances – and this applies no matter what you write.

Submitting regularly to FFF has got me back into writing the 100-word drabbles again which is great. They were my way into flash fiction writing in the first place so there is something pleasingly symmetrical about this!

Screenshot 2022-12-22 at 20-26-04 Submissions

One of the great joys of writing flash fiction at this time of year is in sneaking in some festive references. For example in my Every Little Detail from From Light to Dark and Back Again, I refer to someone checking a certain list “(twice mind you)”. That’s a nod to the song Santa Claus is Coming to Town (and my favourite version of that is still the one by Springsteen). I love reading passing references like this in stories by other authors – it’s great fun to get these in and, for me, a fabulous way to play with words.

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Fairytales with Bite – Fairytale Season

Now December and January is the time for the old fairytales to be revisited by people like me. Pantomime is a fabulous way to enjoy the tales again too. I often visit my local amateur theatre company for their annual panto – always great fun.

Fairytales and pantomime are a great match up because you need outstanding characters. You need a hero/heroine, a baddie, magical support (usually the godmother or the genie), evil to be overcome in the end, and for a happy ever after ending. Generally the fairytales do deliver here! And it helps if you already know the stories well because you appreciate the gags more. Or at least that’s what I’ve found to be the case!

My plan this fairytale season is probably to visit my local panto (they’re doing Pinocchio this time) and to catch up with some “alternatives”. I’m a huge fan of the much missed Terry Pratchett and I love his take on the origins of Santa story with his Hogfather. I think it could be argued A Christmas Carol is a kind of fairytale (albeit aimed at at a much older audence than normal) and I’ve already had the joy of rewatching my favourite adaptation of it – by the Muppets!

Of course you can’t beat reading the original stories – and they are definitely not twee and/or just for kids!

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This World and Others – Festivals

Does your setting have festivals at certain times of year? Are there stories to be shared, which only come out at this time? Special food and drink? Is everyone expected to join in? Are there special shows/services, pageants etc?

If your world doesn’t celebrate anything in particular. Why is that? Terrible history and everyone wants to forget it? Could you explore the dangers of not commemorating something? Or look at a time where there had been festivals but there are not any longer? How were the festivals removed? What happened to those who wanted to continue with them after they’d been stopped?

A festival can also show something of a culture as well as of its history so how does your world does this? Is there a culture which dominates the others, whether deliberately or by histoical events ensuring that this culture is the “top one”? A festival is also brightly coloured and light is heavily involved so how does your setting do this?

I love Christmas. My Christian faith means it does mean a great deal to me and I love the carols and festive music. On that note, may I wish you a Happy Christmas (and maybe give some thought as to how your fictional people would greet and treat others when it comes to their festivals).

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Bridge House Celebration Event

Image Credits-:
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Many thanks to Lynn Clement for taking the pictures of me reading at the recent BHP event for my CFT post this week. Screenshots and most photos for my CFT post this week were taken by me, Allison Symes.
Bitterly cold weather all week here. Writing progressing well – am so glad it’s an indoor job! Looking forward to hearing some festive flash fiction over the weekend, including one of my pieces. It is a thrill to hear my stories on air.

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Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

Delighted to share my new Chandler’s Ford Today post which is all about the recent Bridge House Publishing Celebration Event. It was such fun to go to this and catch up with people. It was by no means certain it would go ahead and, of course, the last two years the event has been affected by Covid. Hope you enjoy my round-up. Already looking forward to next year’s one.

Bridge House Publishing Celebration Event 2022

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Lady had an unexpected surprise today – she got to play with her best buddy, the Ridgeback, who looked very fetching in her coat. Both dogs very happy to see each other.

Looking forward to sharing my next Chandler’s Ford Today post tomorrow. I’ll be looking back at the recent Bridge House Publishing Celebration Event. Always good to go to this. Always lovely to write about it afterwards! See above.

Also looking forward to hearing the Three Minute Santas show on North Manchester FM with Hannah Kate over the weekend. Festive flash is fun to write and wonderful to listen to – will share the link once I’ve got it. Hope this will be in the next post.

Coming up in the New Year will be another flash fiction workshop in January. I did get my competition entry in for the Writing Magazine Grand Flash prize. (You’ve got to 31st December on that one – 500 words maximum).

 

Hope you have had a good day. Still bitterly cold.

Characters have always fascinated me – in my own work as well as in what I read. I do want to know what makes them tick. I need to care about them enough to want to find that out. Often it can be an intriguing bit of dialogue or an internal thought that lures me into reading more. In that, I’m getting a snapshot of what the character is like. Attitudes show up in what they say or think. When I’m writing, I am thinking what it is about this character that would make a reader want to find out more? There has to be something!

I guess the lure of any well written story is wanting to find out what happens. That something happening has to occur to someone which is why for me at least characters are more important than plot. A great character will drive the plot. A good plot won’t be saved by a poorly portrayed character. Readers have to care about your characters (even if that includes wanting to see them fail. There is still care for the character there – you want to see them get their comeuppance).

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Glad to report the December double issue of Mom’s Favorite Reads is now available free to download on Amazon. I took the topic of Fifty as my theme for this edition. I also set a double flash fiction challenge. Do check out how people responded to it. There are great stories here. (And the rest of the magazine is a wonderful read too but don’t just take my word for it – check out the link below.).


I was chatting about closing lines yesterday (see below) so I thought I’d look at opening ones tonight. I love to use an intriguing situation or an interesting bit of dialogue (ideally something that poses a question) so readers have to read on. I also like to set scenes as much as possible too.

One of my favourites here is from Where the Wild Wind Blows from Tripping the Flash Fantastic. That reads The Witch had just finished planting out her runner beans when the farmhouse landed on her head. No prizes for guessing the inspiration behind that one!

But what matters is having something that encourages your reader to read on and I find thinking about what I would like to read helps here. Having an Ideal Reader in mind and thinking about what they would want to see helps enormously too. I am writing for an audience so it makes great good sense to write with them in mind from the get go.

May be an image of text that says "I sometimes use questions as opening lines. I ALWAYS look for something that will intrigue a reader."

I love to end a flash tale with a twist or humorous ending, but not always. There is room for the thoughtful ending too. This works especially well for monologues but I did also use this kind of ending for The Pink Rose in Tripping the Flash Fantastic. This is a compassionate Alzheimer’s story and therefore the ending needed to be appropriate for that.

I also used the phrase “the pink rose” in the opening and closing lines deliberately. It was like a “circle” effect here which again was apt for this kind of tale. Knowing the characters well means I get a good idea of what kind of ending would be apt for them.

The one thing in common with a twist or humorous ending though is it would probably pay to write your thoughtful ending first and then work out the steps that led to it. I’ve done this. It is a good technique to help you ensure your story has the right internal logic to make it work.

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Fairytales with Bite – The Underdog

The underdog crops up a lot in the fairytales. Cinderella is a classic example of that. She was not expected to “win”. She was expected to continue to be the kitchen skivvy. I think one of the classic fairytale tropes is that the underdog can win (and to encourage compassion for said underdog – encouraging compassion is always a good thing!).

Often in the fairytales the underdog is in that position through no fault of their own and usually due to the cruelty of others. So another message here is that cruelty will eventually fail (though I must say I find that doesn’t come as quickly as I’d like!).

An interesting thought for a story idea (or several) is what about the underdog who does deserve to be in that role. What have they done to put them into this position? Are they remorseful? Can things be put right?

As a matter of note, I always look out for the seemingly unimportant characters in fairytales. They do usually tend to end up being far more important than anyone initially thought and that’s an idea to play with in your own stories too.

I also love it when an underdog does a lot to help themselves get out of their situation and doesn’t just rely on a fairy godmother turning up. Much as I love the Cinderella story, I do query why the godmother didn’t intervene earlier to help the poor girl against all that cruelty going on. I wouldn’t have minded Cinders challenging her on that but maybe that was best saved for after the happy ever after ending. Cinders wouldn’t be the underdog then!

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This World and Others – Species and Specialisms

Picture the scene. You’ve created a fantastic multi-cultural world. You’ve got a nice array of species. You’ve worked out how they get on with the others (or not as the case may be). You’ve worked out the politics and/or history behind all of that. You’ve figured out how basic needs are met and so on.

So think in more depth about what the individual species are and why you need them in your setting. What are their specialisms? Do they have to co-operate with others to get skills and other resources they can’t do/produce for themselves? Are there biological reasons why they can’t do these things? How does the need to trade with others affect the politics of your world? Can anyone upset the old apple cart here and, if so, how do they do it?

If you have species with specialisms, does that encourage tolerance in your setting or are those with “better” specialist skills resented? What would that resentment lead to?

Also what forms are the specialism in? Technology? Better ways of food production? What you are after here, I think. Are skills which are definitely needed and which others might have cause to envy or resent. Every story needs conflict and resolution. This could be another way into setting up some interesting conflicts.

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Deadly Traditions with Wendy H Jones

Image Credits-:
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots and post box photos were taken by me. Allison Symes, as were photos of Evergreen – An Anthology. Well, what writer doesn’t want to take picture of their books when they arrive?!
A huge thanks to Wendy H Jones for supplying author and book pictures for my interview with her on Chandler’s Ford Today.
Temperatures have dropped significantly in my part of the world – brrr…. Still it’s time to get out the hot chocolate once again (and I love the mint and orange flavours from Options). Meantime, someone has been busy with our local post box…

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It’s with great pleasure I welcome back Wendy H Jones to Chandler’s Ford Today. We discuss Deadly Traditions, a cozy crime at Christmas anthology, in which Wendy has a short story. Given Wendy is well known for her full length work (fiction and non-fiction) one of my question was about how she found writing in the shorter form. It is a different “beast” after all.

I also asked how she found combining a crime story (normally serious) with a lighter touch expected from a Christmas story (true most of the time. I know there are exceptions). Check out the post to see what she said and do pick up her excellent tips for contributing to anthologies.

Deadly Traditions – Interview with Wendy H Jones

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Brrr…glad to see Lady running around earlier with her gentleman friend, Bear, a lovely tri-coloured Aussie Shepherd. At least both of them have good coats. They’ll appreciate them right now. (As I prepare this in the evening, it’s already -2 out there. I know – that’s nothing compared to many places but it is on the early side for my part of the world. We usually get this kind of temperature towards the end of the month/early January onwards). As I prepare this round up on Friday evening, it is still saying -2 out there!

Looking forward to sharing my Chandler’s Ford Today post tomorrow where I’ll be talking to Wendy H Jones about Deadly Traditions, a cozy crime at Christmas anthology. See above.

One thing I do regularly (and where Flash NANO has helped a lot too) is to build up a stock of flash pieces and short stories on themes which are open to interpretation. It is then a question of finding the right market/competition come up for these but there will be something. I often draft potential blog pieces too which I can then place as needed throughout the year. Again when I have odd pockets of time, I can draft something here which I know I’ll get to use later. Helps my productivity no end!

May be an image of text that says "Never Neverworry worry about how much time you have to write. Five minutes of writing builds up over time and is perfect for drafting short pieces. V"

Chandler's Ford Today post reminder picture(1)

Glad to say my copies of Evergreen – An Anthology arrived today. Always nice to open a parcel with your books (or books you’ve contributed to) inside!

Talking of anthologies, I’m pleased to be welcoming back to Chandler’s Ford Today Scottish crime writer, Wendy H Jones, who will be talking about Deadly Traditions, where she has a short story. Link up on Friday. See above.

Once nice thing I will have to do in next few days is ensure I notify the Authors Licensing and Collecting Society about my contribution to Evergreen – an Anthology. I also need to get things set up on my Amazon Author Central page, Goodreads, my book page on my website etc. Those will be pleasant tasks though – it is always nice to update with another publication credit. You can’t know these things are coming (you can only put in your best effort and hope) but it is always a joy when they do.

 

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Delighted my story Numbers is up on Friday Flash Fiction. I used the random number generator and came up with the number 14. See what I did with it via the link!

Screenshot 2022-12-09 at 16-48-49 Numbers by Allison Symes


If you’ve not yet had chance to do so, why not check out the recently released special fiftieth edition of Mom’s Favorite Reads? Link here. I talk about Fifty as my theme for the December 2022 double issue. I also set a double challenge here and people responded excellently to both.

Hope you have had a good day. Temperatures are set to plummet even further here. One lovely thing about writing is it generally is something you can do in the warm!

When I read at events, I like to mix up the moods of what I read. It makes for a great advert for what flash fiction is and can be. I also mix up my use of first and third person stories. I occasionally use second person but find this works best as a short (even by flash standards) tale and not often. It can come across as a bit gimmicky but the odd use of a “you” story can be effective. So much depends on your character’s (the narrator’s) voice here being strong enough to carry a story like that.

I also practice what I’m reading by going over it a few times. I’ve mentioned using Zoom here and I always do for new material which I’ve not read before. Only way to be sure of my timings and to ensure the story flows. What looks good written down doesn’t always read out well and if I stumble over my words, a reader will too. But that’s what the edit is for – to iron all that out. I enjoy that kind of ironing at least!

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Allison Symes - Flash Fiction Collections

Fairytales With Bite – Tips for Surviving in a Magical World

You know how it is – you go through some portal or down a rabbit hole and before you realise it, you are in a magical world. Now what? The following tips will be useful.

  • Don’t eat or drink anything until you are 100% certain it is real food and drink and doesn’t have unfortunate side effects. It is not practical or helpful to suddenly discover you’ve grown several feet (in height or in literal feet – think of the shoe bills!).
  • Don’t annoy any little old men or women. They’re nearly always powerful magical beings in disguise. You don’t want to get the wrong side of them.
  • Be humble and not arrogant. It will help you with 2 above.
  • Expect talking animals. Try not to be annoyed when they prove to be better conversationalists than you are.
  • Take nothing at face value. If you come across a rather hairy old woman in a night gown, it might be worth checking out if they really are human or not.
  • Get out of said magical world as soon as you can. Nobody will blame you for running away.

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This World and Others – Getting By

Now there are a variety of ways we all get by so this should be reflected in your fictional world. What kind of jobs do people do? If they’re not earning money to pay bills, how do they manage? Is there a barter system and skills are traded?

What kind of employment does your fiction world offer its characters? Are certain occupations reserved for certain species/classes and how did that come about? Are there skills your world has to import and where would they get these from? What can they offer in exchange?

Another thing to think about is what happens to those characters left behind by the leads going off on quests etc? How do they manage?

One interesting thing about The Lord of the Rings which the book shows well is when Frodo and the hobbits return to The Shire. It is quickly made apparent that all have been changed by what has happened. The Shire and its inhabitants are not the same as when Frodo and company left them (albeit in something of a hurry!).

Could you show something of this kind of thing in your story, especially if you want y our hero(es) to return home? Getting by includes making adjustments to resume normal life again too.

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“Seconds”

Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Many thanks to Val Penny for supplying book and author pics for her interview with me for Chandler’s Ford Today. Screenshots were taken by me, Allison Symes.
Brr… it has got colder this week and even the dog noticed it. Hope you have had a good week. Am looking forward to Bridge House Publishing’s annual celebration event in London tomorrow (3rd December). Always good fun and it will be so nice to catch up with folk in person once again.

Feature Image - Interview - Val Penny - Seconds

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Facebook – General and Chandler’s Ford Today

Am delighted to welcome back Scottish crime writer, Val Penny, back to Chandler’s Ford Today. In her interview called Seconds, Val celebrates the second edition of Hunter’s Revenge, which is the second book in her DI Hunter Wilson series.

“Seconds” come into a writer’s life in many ways and Val and I explore some of these too here, including the issues of secondary rights and second person point of view. Hope you enjoy it.

Good luck to Val as well with the launch of Hunter’s Revenge.

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Cold today but given the date that is no surprise – welcome to December! Author newsletter went out today. Looking forward to chatting to Val Penny once again on Chandler’s Ford Today this week – link for that up tomorrow. See above.

Feeling a little bit at a loss given Flash NANO has now ended. Had such a good time taking part in that. Will now be taking my own advice to rest my stories for a while and then come back and edit them later. Giving myself some distance from what I’ve written is the single one way I’ve found helps me judge a tale objectively enough. I think it is because you come back to the stories and read them as a reader, almost as if someone else has written them, and you want that effect to see what works and what needs strengthening or deleting.

Had a lovely time on the ACW Flash Fiction Group last night. I shared some thoughts on using the positive and negative aspects to character traits such as honesty etc. Great way into knowing your character well enough to be able to write their stories up at all.

May be an image of text that says "use major traits as capable of doing. way of getting to know what my character could be Valuable Sensual Loyal Helpful Attentivewise AbleProtective Clever Wise Connected Trustworthy Flexible Affectionate Attractive Strong Able Confident Intelligent Tender Open Unique Enthusiasticpatientm Worthy Clever Secure Hopeful Thoughtful Receptive ntHumble Clever Valuable Daring Understanding Curious Caring Playful Determined Important Creative Caring Peaceful Attractive Brilliant Innocent Curious Generous Loyal Wise Enthusiastic Expressive Daring Generous Trusting urturing"

Hope you have had a good day. Lady did – she got to play with her three favourite girl friends today – good time had by all. Nice mixture of sizes here – Lady as a collie, then her friends who were a Ridgeback, a Vizler and a Labradoodle.

Looking forward to the Association of Christian Writers Flash Fiction group meeting later on – always good fun. Hope to have a go at the last prompt from Flash NANO after that meeting. Where has the month gone? I’ve loved the variety of prompts here. Kept me on my toes!

I’m looking forward also to welcoming back Val Penny to Chandler’s Ford Today on Friday as she celebrates the second edition of Hunter’s Revenge coming out. Now there are a number of “seconds” which can crop up in a writer’s life and Val and I will be looking at some of those too as part of her interview. Again see above. I was surprised when putting this interview together just how many writing seconds there are. I suspect I haven’t covered all but there is useful information in the post about ALCS and secondary rights.

My next newsletter goes out tomorrow. Hard to believe the next one will be on New Year’s Day!

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

It’s the end of the working week. It has been a really cold day. It’s getting dark far too early in the afternoon. At least it is in my part of the world! Time for a story then. This bit is always true regardless of where you are!

Hope you enjoy my latest on Friday Flash Fiction which is called Time To Move On. See what you make of the Judith in this story.

The eagle-eyed among you will recognize my YouTube story out this week (on Monday) also had a character called Judith. I will often use the same topic that comes up in a random generator for two different stories – one for my YouTube channel and the other for Friday Flash Fiction. I take the two stories in different directions/moods. Here I used a random name generator for my purposes and then thought what could I do with two different Judiths!

Screenshot 2022-12-02 at 09-59-08 Time To Move On by Allison Symes

Useful tip if you’re thinking about sharing flash stories via Open Prose Mic Nights and the like (also for broadcasting) – practice reading your story to yourself and record it via Zoom. As well as having an mp4 file to play back at the end of the meeting with yourself, you can get your timings right here too.

You can also hear where the story works well, where it may seem weak, and hear it as a reader would take it in – that’s useful because it will flag up what may grip the reader, and what may not. You’ve then got time to sort things out before submitting that piece or reading it out to a live audience.

Talking of broadcasting, I was sorry to hear of the death of Ron Clark, who was the owner of Chat and Spin Radio, which is now closed. I did a couple of author interviews on there. It was great fun to do and Ron will be much missed. It was a nice way of spreading the word about books and the joy of reading and a great experience to take part in a show like that.

May be an image of 1 person and text that says "Using Zoơm to record a meeting with yourself is useful way ofbeing able to play back a story as Zoom converts file to mp4 for you. You can then hear a story as reader would take it in."

I’ve loved taking part in Flash NANO. Will happily sign up for that again. Many thanks to Denise d’Souza and Dominic Barton for telling me about this. The mixture of prompts was great. Even ones I’ve done before, such as writing a story based around a number, made me think about new ways to do that.

It is good practice to write to prompts which is why I use the random generators a lot. It makes you come up with something and once you have that you can then work on it and after the right editing you have a story ready to submit somewhere. Mixing up the type of generators you use gives you good practice in coming up with stories in different ways. Always handy when you are then set prompts by someone else!

May be an image of text that says "I think the growth in flash fiction reading has been fuelled by people reading more ση screen."

Fairytales with Bite – Purpose of Fairytales

One of the purposes of fairytales was to act as warnings about behaviour – e.g. don’t go off with the Big Bad Wolf. It will end in tears. And it was done in an entertaining way to ensure people remembered the message. Jesus told parables because storytelling is a great way to get a message across. People remember the story, they remember the message.

For me, one of the great joys of reading fairytales as a child was knowing that somehow right would be seen to be done. This is why Hans Christen Andersen’s The Little Mermaid where there isn’t the traditional happy ending as such did come as a surprise. But there was purpose there too – to show life isn’t all happy ever afters.

Now when I write my humorous flash pieces which are often fairytale/magical world related, I’m not looking to convey a purpose as such. I want my characters to show “their” stories and the purpose will be implied by what they say and do.

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This World and Others – The Entertainment Scene

In your fictional setting, what would pass for entertainment? Are there such things as theatre, radio, film etc? Is there a literary culture or tourism? What would the entertainment scene be like and is it accessible to all?

How have things changed over time? I am glad my country no longer has bear baiting for example, so entertainment scene changes can be for the better. Not that everyone welcomes changes so in your stories, could you show those resistant to change, even in something like entertainment? How would they keep their old ways going?

Are there those who oppose entertainment of any kind and what would they be prepared to do to stop others enjoying it?

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Twitter Corner

 

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Interview Part 2 with Jenny Sanders, Shout-outs, and Getting Steamed Up

Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Many thanks to Jenny Sanders for supplying author, book, and other pictures for my Chandler’s Ford Today post this week. As ever, screenshots were taken by me, Allison Symes.
Hope you have had a good working week. Nice surprises this week – unexpected shoutouts for Tripping the Flash Fantastic and I will be glad to share further publication news very soon too. (And it stopped raining for a bit too so Lady and I consider that a win!).

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Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

It’s with great pleasure I welcome back Jenny Sanders to Chandler’s Ford Today for Part 2 of a stunning interview (and many thanks for the comments coming in on this already).

This week, Jenny and I discuss writing devotionals, short stories, and flash fiction. The latter especially is another example of where Jenny and I cross (writing) paths – hence the title for this interview this week. Hope you enjoy.

The writing journey can take you on all sorts of interesting pathways as Jenny and I have both found.

Crossing Paths with Jenny Sanders – Flash Fiction, Devotionals, and Short Stories- Part 2

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Many thanks to #ValPenny for a lovely shout-out today for Tripping the Flash Fantastic. That was a lovely surprise, as was the fabulous comment from #JoyWood. Now that is what I call a review! Thank you, ladies.

Also had a further nice surprise when I gave someone, a fellow dog walker, one of my business cards as they’re interested in my books. Now that’s music to a writer’s ears, is it not?

Don’t forget, as well as getting copies of TTFF and From Light to Dark and Back Again, online (usual outlets), you can contact me via my website at https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com if you would like a signed copy (or copies) directly from me. See my contact page.

Talking of flash fiction, I’ll be discussing that very topic, amongst others, with Jenny Sanders in Part 2 of her interview on Chandler’s Ford Today. Link up tomorrow. See above.

Screenshot 2022-11-24 at 19-39-22 Val Penny Facebook

 

Lady got to play with her best buddy, the lovely Ridgeback today, and after Monday’s weather, it was so lovely to have a nice day out in the park today. Nice to come home still dry too!

Am enjoying the Flash NANO challenges especially as there is great variety in them. Looking forward to tackling today’s one later on. I deliberately mix up the random generators I use to produce stories. I don’t want to limit myself to one type. I think this has stood me in good stead for Flash NANO. Best of all, it’s fun anyway!

I was impressed – my train tickets for the Bridge House Publishing event arrived today. I only ordered them a couple of days ago. So looking forward to catching up with people again here (and I hope making new friends too).

AE - November 2022 - Taking part in Flash NANO

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

It’s Friday. It’s time for another story. (Think it is quite nice to start the working week with one on my YouTube channel and to finish said working week with another one on Friday Flash Fiction). Am pleased to say Getting Steamed Up is my latest tale on Friday Flash Fiction. This one started life in response to a Flash NANO prompt. Hope you enjoy it.

Screenshot 2022-11-25 at 09-38-34 Getting Steamed Up by Allison Symes

Many thanks to #FridayFlashFiction for commenting on my post yesterday about one of the disciplines of flash fiction. Couldn’t agree more – see screenshot if you missed the post. Don’t forget a new batch of stories will be up tomorrow and do check out what’s on there.

Fabulous reading and catching up with stories via websites like this can be a great way to ensure you get some contemporary flash fiction reading in as part of your “reading diet”. I consciously try to ensure I read in and out of my genre, past and present work, books, magazines etc. It keeps life interesting for a start. It’s fun too!

Screenshot 2022-11-24 at 19-49-51 Allison Symes Facebook

 

One of the disciplines of flash fiction (which comes in useful for other forms of writing) is in knowing where and when to stop! You tell your story, your character has done/said all they needed to do/say, and then you stop. I find the word count restriction helps here.

The End really does have to be the end. It can be tempting to add in a kind of concluding bit. Flash writing cures you of that habit quickly as you can only include anything which moves the story on in some way. There really is no room for anything else and that’s good. Your focus is sharpened thanks to this.

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Fairytales with Bite – Who Guards The Guards?

In a magical setting, there should be some way to measure magical standards. One way is obviously through schooling and exams but what about later? Who ensures standards are kept up by fairy godmothers and the like? Who ensures short cuts aren’t being taken which could endanger others? Who sets the standards people need to stick to in the first place and have these ever been changed or challenged?

Is there a magical enforcement agency of any kind and, If so, who guards those guards to ensure they’re doing their job properly? Is the agency a good one or are they the equivalent of the old Keystone Cops (i.e. fit for comic purposes only)?

Are the guardians of magical standards respected or feared? (Could be both but I find it interesting where a body like that is respected rather than feared. It would tend to show me that these people are doing their job in a way that benefits the people and there could be stories here about where the public helps the agency solve magical crimes, prevents standards slipping and so on precisely because that respect exists. People don’t tend to assist those they fear unless they have no choice).

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This World and Others – Law Making

In your fictional setting, does law making tend to follow the pattern we have here of parliamentary democracy or dictatorship? How do laws get made and passed? Do people have any say in this? Can people petition the likes of their local councillors/MPs? And when laws are passed how are people informed about them? How long does a new law take to be implemented fully?

Does your world have a separate civil/criminal law making body/bodies?

In the case of longstanding laws, what could make the authorities change these? Do they update laws where situations/technologies and the like have changed? That kind of change can make some laws redundant. For example, we no longer need a man with a red flag walking in front of a motor vehicle to warn pedestrians a car was on the road!

Is the law respected or mocked (even if the latter is done privately)? Are there laws which desperately need scrapping or an update and who/what is blocking that? Plenty of stories to be had there I think!

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