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!

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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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Allison Symes – Book Brush Reader Hub

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Festive Flash News and Author and Book Events

Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots were taken by me, Allison Symes, as was the photo of my two flash collections at the BHP event. Many thanks to Lynn Clement for taking the photo of me reading at the Bridge House Publishing Celebration event. Always tricky doing that kind of thing yourself! 
Weather becoming significantly colder in my part of the world. Lady’s not bothered but is probably wondering why Mum is keen to keep moving rather than let her stop and sniff everything every five seconds or so!

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Glad to report one of my festive flash fiction pieces will be broadcast on Hannah Kate’s Three Minute Santas show on North Manchester FM on 17th December. Looking forward to sharing the link to the show later. Glad to hear other friends will also be having their stories on here – well done, all!

Now I will record myself on Zoom every so often to check if a story flows as well as I thought and for things like Hannah’s show, I want to make sure I’ve got my timings rights. (Maximum allowed is three minutes). The lovely thing with Zoom is if you set up a meeting with yourself, record yourself speaking, and then end that meeting, Zoom will convert the file to an mp4 for you. You also get an exact timing.

And in playing back your recording, you can literally hear the ebbs and flows of your story. Worth doing and it is also great practice to read aloud for Open Prose Mic Nights as well.

Last but not least, a big thank you for the anniversary congratulations yesterday. Much appreciated! (See below).

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5th December
Hope you have had a good day. Today is my 35th wedding anniversary. Better half and I can’t believe where the time has gone either.

Writing wise, I’m pleased to share the link to the super duper double issue of Mom’s Favorite Reads. Why such a large edition? Simply it is because this is the 50th edition and naturally that had to be celebrated with something special.

I use the theme of Fifty for my article in this issue and I set not one but two flash fiction challenges. One was to write on the subject of fifty up to a word count of 300 words. The second challenge was to write a fifty word story all in, including the title. Do check out the stories that came in – it was, as ever, a joy to be the editor on these.

 

Brrr…it’s cold out there. Nice to have a quieter day today after my trip yesterday. I hope my next trip will be in January when I’ll be giving a flash fiction workshop. (It will be in person ideally but may need to switch to Zoom. Am happy with both kinds of workshop).

Am looking forward to welcoming back Wendy H Jones to Chandler’s Ford Today on Friday. She’ll be discussing Deadly Traditions, a cozy mystery at Christmas anthology, with me. I’ll be chatting about how she found writing shorter fiction given she is best known for her own crime series and marketing books in particular. Long and short fiction writing have their own challenges and joys.

Have not yet started work on my editing for my Flash NANO stories. I suspect I’ll get to this after Christmas. I won’t be that sorry about it as I do give myself time away from something recently written so I can come back and judge it objectively later.

 

Am writing this on way up to London for the annual Bridge House Publishing Celebration event. This is being held at the wonderfully named Theodore Bullfrog pub.

Am looking forward to seeing friends and listening to author readings. I’m taking part in that too but it is such a joy to relax and be read to – how often do you get to do that? Audio books are fab but listening to the author telling their tale live as they want it to come across is special and a treat.

Do support author reading events. They’re great fun and give you a chance to escape the world for a bit as well as being another way to support writers.

Update: Did indeed have a fabulous time at the BHP event. Loved the readings from the different authors and it was fun to take part myself. Hope to write more about this for a further Chandler’s Ford Today post. A big thanks to Lynn Clement for taking the picture of me on my phone as I read a story from each of my two flash collections.

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Delighted to say a festive piece of mine will be on Three Minute Santas on Hannah Kate’s show on North Manchester FM on 17th December. Always a fun show to listen to – and I plan to share the link later. Flash works so well in an audio format.

Flash is also great to share as a reading because you can’t go on for too long yet it makes for a great introduction to you and your writing style. Win-win there!

I am planning to use my Flash NANO stories for a mixture of competitions and for a future collection. Nice to be off to a cracking start there!

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It’s Monday. It’s cold. There is still far too much to do before Christmas but it is time to take a break and enjoy a new flash fiction video. You know it makes sense, to quote Del Boy from Only Fools and Horses. Hope you enjoy Fourteen Days, my latest on YouTube.

 

Loved my trip out yesterday and it is always good to wave the flag for flash fiction. I hope to do so again in January when I’m due to run a workshop.

I took the opportunity yesterday to show how flash can mix up the moods so read a humorous tale and a serious one. Both tales have good emotional impact which is what you want from a story. Even as a kid, I wanted to get to the “happy ever after” in the fairytales but I was also intrigued as to how that would happen.

That should’ve been an early flag to me that writing would be what I’d end up doing!

From Light to Dark and Back Again - by nightTripping The Flash Fantastic - by night

Looking forward to reading some flash tales at the Bridge House Publishing Celebration event in London today. Nice to be back on the train again too. Always good for people watching and I have had inspiration for stories from things seen/overheard.

These things are always a starting point only as by the time I’ve written and edited my tale, my “unintentional inspirers” would never recognize they had inspired a story.

One key skill for any writer is to be observant and from that to think yes, I could use that. For example, I spotted someone hastily writing out a couple of Christmas cards. So my mind is thinking along the lines of who are these cards for and why it is vital my character gets these written now.

It’s a situation most of us can identify with and has the potential to be a funny tale and/or a heartwarming one. But I needed to spot someone doing this to get my ideas sparking.

(Again thanks to Lynn Clement for taking the picture of me reading).

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Goodreads Author Blog – Book Events

Book events are great fun and if you can get to go to any, please do.

As well as showing support for the authors (which is always appreciated), you may well get to hear readings. Also there will be the chance to get signed copies. These make for fab Christmas presents!

A lot of work goes on behind the scenes setting these up but book events are wonderful for bringing writers and readers together.

Any reader interacts with the author simply by reading their works of course but at events, you may be able to ask questions as you get your books signed.

That can give the writer useful feedback. I’ve had readers say something about my stories revealing hidden depths I hadn’t considered when writing the tale.

Was I pleased? Oh yes! Why? Because the readers had engaged with my stories and showed me they had.

We all love books for various reasons but engaging with stories like that is so special. And it is really nice for an author to find that out a book event.

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Remembering

Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes. It has been a busy week starting with a podcast appearance and ending with a solemn day of remembrance. Hope your week has been a good one. Weather has ranged from stormy to sunshine and sudden rain and back to sunshine again! It is very mild for the time of year too. Writing wise, Flash NANO continues to go well and I will have lots of lovely interviews to share on Chandler’s Ford Today over the next few weeks.

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Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

11th November 2022 – Armistice Day

There could only be one topic for this week’s post on Chandler’s Ford Today and I have called my post Remembering. This is a tribute to the fallen and those who gave up loved ones so we don’t have to and I also look at why remembering is an act of will. It’s a phenomenally important one at that too.

Remembering

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Hope you have had a good day. It’s been a busy week so far but fun. Am looking forward to sharing interviews with some wonderful authors on Chandler’s Ford Today over the next few weeks.

But there could only be one topic for tomorrow’s post – I’ll share the link for Remembering tomorrow. See above.

On the fiction front, you could use the thought of what your characters think important enough to remember as a basis for stories. Why have they chosen to remember what they have and how does that bring them into conflict with others? (And there will be bound to be conflict given people can often remember the same event differently. Characters can do likewise). Also do your characters act on those memories and what are the consequences?

Will be working on the latest Flash NANO prompt shortly. Am so loving these. Got that prompt written up. Am already thinking of future homes for some of these.

9th November 2022 – two posts

FIRST POST

You know you get one of those days where lots is going on – well, today is one of mine. This is the first of two posts from me tonight.

First up, a huge thank you to the lovely #ValPenny for sharing my post about Looking Back at Swanwick 2022 on her website today.

Looking back is an apt topic for me because, not only is my Chandler’s Ford Today post this week about Remembering (linking in with Armistice Day on Friday), today is the seventh anniversary of my mother’s passing. Mum read widely and passed on her love of the written word to me. She did get to see my first short story in print (and my late Dad got to see my first book, From Light to Dark and Back Again, in print – there is a kind of symmetry here).

For the lifelong love of books and stories I’ve inherited from you, thanks Mum!

Screenshot 2022-11-09 at 09-04-41 Looking Back at The Writers’ Summer School at Swanwick 2022 by Allison Symes


9th November 2022

SECOND POST

SECOND post from me tonight and I’d like to say a huge thank you to #WendyHJones for hosting me on her podcast, The Writing and Marketing Show. We discuss Flash NANO, which I’m happily taking part in at the moment. And I always welcome a chance to celebrate the joys of flash fiction writing.

Hope you enjoy the podcast. I loved taking part in this and to my fellow Flash NANO writers, more power to your pens and laptops! I’ll be working on the latest challenge a little later on this evening. Hope all is going well for you.

https://wendyhjones.buzzsprout.com/807761/11656217-flash-nanowrimo

Screenshot 2022-11-10 at 20-07-38 Flash NaNoWriMo - The Writing and Marketing ShowScreenshot 2022-11-10 at 20-07-27 The Writing and Marketing Show

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

My latest tale on Friday Flash Fiction is called In The Blink of an Eye. Hope you enjoy it. Find out if my character’s story about an accident rings true for you as she thinks about what she is going to tell the police officer who has come to see her as a result of said “accident”.

Screenshot 2022-11-11 at 08-57-23 In The Blink Of An Eye by Allison Symes

Am starting work on some festive flash fiction (Flash NANO has helped here too!) and have an idea as to where it will go in due course. Festive flash is about the only seasonal writing I do and it is great fun. This kind of quirky humorous fiction, I think, works best when kept short so flash is the ideal form for it.

I hope to so some more for Chandler’s Ford Today in due course too. I usually have a pre-Christmas post on this. It’s a nice way to sign off for a Christmas break too. The nice thing here is you can create these at any time and just save them up for the apt time of year. I have done that in the past. Not had the chance this year. Making up for it now though!

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It was a joy to talk to #WendyHJones about Flash NANO for her podcast, The Writing and Marketing Show. I share what Flash NANO is about, look at the joys and challenges of it, and where it differs from the main NaNoWriMo event. Not least of which is hopefully by the end of November I’ll have 30 more flash fiction stories to polish and work on further – more than I would’ve done. I don’t usually write a flash fiction piece a day – I do write a few over the course of a week. And “hon mentions” go to members of the ACW Flash Fiction Group too for telling me about Flash NANO in the first place.

 

Fairytales with Bite – Memories

This is an apt topic given Friday, 11th November will be Armistice Day/Veterans Day. We cherish memories we rightly dare not forget.

In your fictional setting, what would be your community’s collective memories, the things everyone shares? How are these things remembered? Are there rituals people must follow? (I use the word people loosely here!). On an individual level, what memories does your character cherish or go out of their way to try and forget? What does that say about them? And can memories come back to haunt them?

Perspective is important too. People can be at an event and have differing views of what happened when despite being in the same place and the same time.

I once took part in an interesting writing exercise to prove this point. Fellow writers and I had to recall something that had happened after having just been shown the event in question. This was interesting, We recalled a lot of things in common but by no means everything. There were differences too. Yet all of us could’ve sworn we’d remembered “correctly”.

How could that play out for your characters and how would it affect the actions they then take?

Remembering helps us to be grateful for sacrifices made

This World and Others – Remembrance Ceremonies

The Armistice Day ceremonies are always deeply moving. For those of us in the UK this year’s ceremonies will have an added poignancy given one very familiar figure will not be laying the wreath at The Centoaph in London, as Her Late Majesty the Queen had done for so many years.

In your fictional setting, what is “officially” remembered and why? What ceremonies are used to commemorate these events/people? Does everyone join in with these things and, if so, is that by choice? Where it is, what would happen to those who disagree and refuse to take part?

Are there events in your world’s history which nobody remembers because they don’t want to do so? Where this reflects badly on them, what happens when someone uncovers this and exposes it?

Who leads any ceremonies and are these kept simple or is there a lot of pomp and circumstance? What are the traditions leading to the ceremonies being carried out the way they are? Do other countries (or equivalent) in your setting share the same ceremonies?

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Flash NANO, Book Wish Lists, and Podcast News

Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes. Hope you have had a good start to the week. Wild weather here but progressing well with Flash NANO and I’m about to be on a podcast talking about that very thing. Hope to share the link to the podcast in the next issue on Friday.

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Facebook – General

Thrilled to say I was interviewed by #WendyHJones for her podcast, The Writing and Marketing Show, today. Show will go out tomorrow and I’m looking forward to sharing the link.

Our topic? Flash NANO! Flash NANO is an offshoot of NaNoWriMO and is where flash fiction writers get to write 30 flash pieces over 30 days. I’ll be working on my prompt for today later on this evening! Tomorrow’s episode follows on beautifully from her show last week which talked about NaNoWriMo – the A to Z see link for that. It was great fun taking part in this and I am always keen to spread the word about flash fiction – win-win here then!

Screenshot 2022-11-08 at 20-40-00 NaNoWriMo A to Z - The Writing and Marketing Show

Hope you have had a lovely start to your working week. Blustery and wet again here but I did have a lovely surprise this morning. Ruth Leigh, whom I recently interviewed for Chandler’s Ford Today, gave me a lovely shout-out on More Than Writers (the Association of Christian Writers blog spot). See link and screenshot.

Talking of CFT, my post this week will be called Remembering, especially apt at this post goes out on Armistice Day.

And in other news, I will be interviewed myself very soon. See above! Will give more details when I can but looking forward to this a lot.

All in all, it’s not been a bad Monday!

Screenshot 2022-11-07 at 09-21-45 It's All in the Questions

More rain last night, fewer fireworks, Lady dozing off to the second part of Classic FM’s Pet Classics – win-win all around here!
I use a good old-fashioned paper diary bought from my local Post Office to help me plan out my writing. I find this especially useful for the different blogs I write pieces for. There is still much to be said for pen and paper technology!

Having said that, I take my turn every month on the Association of Christian Writers Twitter feed. I draft those tweets in advance and schedule them so I use that kind of technology too.

Am definitely one of life’s planners. I find it invaluable for keeping track of my writing. And today being a Sunday, as well as continuing with Flash NANO later on, I will get some flash pieces ready for submission and scheduling respectively. It’s a nice way to round off the writing week.

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Hope you have had a good Saturday. There were some fireworks last night but the combination of Classic FM’s Pet Classics, the TV being on, and shut curtains etc meant Lady was okay (and she nodded off during the evening, which is always a good sign). The only positive thing about the wild and wet weather today is it should mean fewer fireworks (I hope). I see some of the supermarkets are now stocking the silent variety. Now that is the way to go with these things. It is the noise which causes the most distress and I do feel deeply sorry for the wild animals. At least I can keep my pet indoors.

A big thanks for the wonderful comments coming in on Old Notebooks, my latest story on Friday Flash Fiction. Feedback always appreciated.

My theme for next week’s Chandler’s Ford Today will be Remembering given it will be Armistice Day.

Memories can make great themes for stories too. You can have characters who struggle with theirs for various reasons from illness to the memories themselves being something they don’t really want to have to face up to and don’t forget false memories. Who has them? What has triggered this? How can they be shown these memories are false?

Progressing well with Flash NANO too. Looking forward to having a go at today’s prompt later on.

Screenshot 2022-11-04 at 09-26-35 Old Notebooks by Allison Symes

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Earlier today I was spreading the word about flash fiction and Flash NANO in particular as guest interviewee on Wendy H Jones’s podcast, The Writing and Marketing Show. Show goes out tomorrow and I will be sharing the link then.

But I’m always pleased to share the virtues of flash fiction and one perhaps overlooked aspect is the possibilities of getting into print with it. I hope by the end of Flash NANO to have 30 new stories. Once I’ve polished those up, I hope to send some in for competitions. Others I hope to put towards a future collection. And with the rise in the indie press, there are opportunities out there to have flash collections published. I know, I’ve done it!

I also remain convinced that flash is an excellent form of writing exercise for any writer because you have to think about what the story is about and what the reader needs to know and cut out everything that doesn’t serve a useful purpose.

Flash Fiction focuses on THE important aspect of a character's life

It’s a dark Monday. It’s a wet and windy one. Time for my latest story on YouTube. Hope you enjoy All In The Game, which is based on fact too.

 

How to tell when a flash piece is finished? My take on this is when I know I cannot take another word out without losing something invaluable to the characters/story. As for adding words, again the same criteria applies because you can, to use the English phrase, “over-egg” the pudding and ruin it.

As I mentioned yesterday, I have to justify to myself why I’ve included anything in my story. If I’m not convinced if something is necessary, then a reader is likely to feel the same way. I don’t want them switching off as a result.

When looking back at my earlier stories, I can see now how I could improve these but that is the point. That was the stage of writing I was at then. I have moved on since and rightly so too. I want to try and keep on improving on what I do. That attitude helps fuel my imagination and creativity and I am all for that. I don’t think any writer can feel they’ve “made it”. There are always ways to develop your characters further and to come up with other interesting situations to dump them in. That is the fun bit!

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Flash fiction is the definition of Less is More being true but it is nice being able to exploit that to maximum effect. This is another reason why knowing the last line first is such an effective device for writing flash. If I’m given a prompt which could be an opening or a closing line, I nearly always make it the last one for this reason. I’ve got the impact in that line so where best to place it? Often it is at the end.

Sometimes a story simply does work better at 300 words, say, rather than 100. Usually there are factors such as more in depth characterisation adding to the story which you would not want to lose. My basis for editing any piece of my work is if it adds something to useful to the story and moves it on in some way it stays in. If not, out it comes. So part of my editing process is to go through my story line by line and query its worthiness to be included. I have to be able to justify its inclusion.

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Goodreads Author Blog – Book Wish Lists

It is the right time of year to start thinking about book wish lists (assuming you don’t have an all year round one. The advantage of the latter is it covers birthdays, anniversaries, feel like a new book days etc). I don’t have a wish list for my Kindle. If there’s a book I’m after for that, I just get it.

But I will be compiling my annual list for the family to pick books from for me for Christmas. That’s always fun to put together. I go for a mixture of hardbacks and paperbacks. Some will be books I’ve been after for a while. Others are recent releases I like the look of – and often detective novels at that. I also make a point in checking out non-fiction releases as I’ve found some gems there.

So what it is that makes you put a book on your own wish list? For me the story is the lure. If I like the sound of it, on to the wish list it goes, whether it is by a big name author or not. Some are the latest in a series I’ve become fond of and others are stand alones. As long as I like the sound of the tale and the characters, I’m putting it on my list.

The nice thing about lists is it is a win-win for my loved ones too. I am easy to buy for! Mind you, I think most writers are. There are always books or stationery items we want. No good asking for an agent or a publishing deal though – you’re on your own for those!

 

 

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Creative Matters: A New Direction and Mom’s Favorite Reads

Image Credit:-

All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated.

Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.

Images for Creativity Matters: Find Your Passion for Writing kindly supplied by Wendy H Jones (as was her own author pic). Some images for Creativity Matters created in Book Brush by Wendy H Jones and Allison Symes. Image of yours truly proudly holding up one of her copies of Creativity Matters taken by Adrian Symes.

Other images created in Book Brush using Pixabay photos as usual. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes.

A busy week with Creativity Matters now being out and my latest article is also out in Mom’s Favorite Reads. 

Moms Favorite Reads - September 2021

Creativity Matters

Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

Am thrilled to welcome back #WendyHJones to Chandler’s Ford Today to talk about Creative Matters: Find Your Passion for Writing.

Wendy shares with me what made her decide to go into publishing other authors and how she has found this aspect of her own writing journey. She also shares fabulous tips for writers on working with editors and publishers, as well as marketing tips.

All great information regardless of what stage you’re at in your own writing journey. I’ve found from experience that what might not be directly relevant to me now becomes so later on and I have been so grateful to have that information to fall back on when I needed it.

We also discuss the technical side of bringing books out and Wendy shares what skills she has had to learn to take on something that is brand new for her. She has written from the cradle to the grave, in terms of audience, but publishing others is a first. There are always learning curves but these are what keep us on our toes as writers and help us develop and achieve more than we might once have thought possible.

Wonderful information here and a big thanks to Wendy for sharing this.

Creativity Matters – Wendy H. Jones – A New Direction

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Pleased to say the September 2021 edition of Mom’s Favorite Reads is now out. My topic this time is Frames in Fiction and I look at how I use a frame format for some of my flash fiction writing. See my article for more on why this is a useful thing to do and do check out the excellent stories that follow which are on the topic of framed. Loved reading those. Hopefully you will too! My story on the theme is part of my article.

What with Creativity Matters: Find Your Passion for Writing, it has been a busy week for celebrating and talking about flash fiction!


A huge thanks for all of the wonderful responses to my post about Creativity Matters: Find Your Passion for Writing yesterday. It is always a joy to share author pics, proudly holding book etc! Especially since in the early years, I received outright rejections or simply didn’t hear back from publishers. (The latter is even more common now given time constraints for most publishers and agents).

Persistence and willingness to learn from mistakes are crucial attributes for any writer. You do get better the more you write. You learn what works and, just as importantly, what doesn’t.

I recently judged a flash fiction competition for The Byre Writers. Great fun to do and many congratulations to the worthy winner, #SuzanneMilne with her Why Can’t You Hear Me? I often talk about impact in stories, especially flash fiction. You are looking for the “wow” factor. This one had that in spades.

When I enter competitions I try to come up with unforgettable characters who will move me. If they move me, make me laugh, cry, scream, or what have you, they’ll do that for someone else, including hopefully the competition judge!

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Confession time: forgot to submit anything to Friday Flash Fiction this week but I was pleased to see more stories by more people I know on there. (Particular shout out to #HannahRuthRetallick, #VeronicaBright, and #ElaineLangford here).

Browsing the stories on here every week is a great joy and is a fabulous way to discover the wonderful world of flash fiction. Submission rules are easy to follow too so why not give it a go? (And yes I plan to get another story on there again soon).

Screenshot 2021-09-03 at 20-22-56 Friday Flash Fiction

Just a quick reminder that I’ll be talking with #WendyHJones about Creativity Matters: Find Your Passion for Writing tomorrow in Chandler’s Ford Today. Link further up. My chapter is on Why Write Flash Fiction and Short Stories and it was a joy to write. I’m always up for celebrating flash fiction and spreading the word about what a wonderful format it is… not that I’m biased… much!

I am also in the September issue of Mom’s Favorite Reads and discuss using frames in flash fiction writing. See link for more. And don’t forget Friday Flash Fiction if you are looking for somewhere to send your 100-word stories. The feedback I have had here has been incredible and so encouraging. This is nice because this doesn’t always happen online. Happy to share the link for MFR twice – it is a fab magazine with a wide range of articles and stories. It is a joy and pleasure to write for it.

 

One of the things with flash fiction is working out exactly where to end the story. I know, I know, that’s true for any story, I hear you cry. True but given you have less room in flash, it is even more important to get it right.

This is one reason why I will often “start” with a closing line (which is often a twist or a punchline) and then work backwards to get to a logical start. Let’s call it writing from B to A rather than A to B. (Mixing up how you approach is a story is good fun and keeps you on your toes. It also encourages you to think in different ways which encourages lateral thinking and greater creativity as a result).

I aim to leave a story where the tale is concluded but the reader senses the characters could go on to “live” in other stories not told by me at this time. That’s a good sign of characters coming to life for the reader and helps maximise character impact. I know when I read works by other writers, one of the things I love most is, having got to the end, I can still envisage those characters living lives outside of the novel or short story concerned.

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Fairytales with Bite – Magical History Lessons

In your fantasy setting, what role does history play? How much of your created world’s history is known by your characters? And do mistakes from the past come back to haunt your characters now?

When it comes to education, whose version of history is the “accepted” version taught in schools etc? Is there an alternative history that is suppressed because it is a threat to those in power?

When it comes to fairytale history, do stories such as Cinderella and Snow White form the basis of what is taught as in a magical setting, those could be “real life” tales and be treated as such? Are there fairytales that are considered unacceptable and so are not taught? Why are these “banned”? What would happen if word about them got out? Would it make your people re-examine what they’d always taken to be the truth?

Whatever your setting is, whoever your characters are, there has to be something “behind” them in terms of history. Characters have a past. The setting also does (and you could examine what changes have happened over time here too. Are they better? Is the environment damaged by the changes? Has it affected people’s magical abilities in the same way pollution here on Earth would and does choke our planet? All interesting story ideas to explore).

What matters is getting across to a reader what they need to know but to do it in an interesting way. You almost slip the information in so readers pick it up, almost without noticing. What you don’t want is “info dump” and characters should never tell each other what they ought to know. Readers will see right through that, correctly too, as a way for an author to get information across without “telling” you but it doesn’t really work. Dialogue has to be what you would reasonably expect characters to say and I know I don’t tell people I know what I know they already know! So our characters mustn’t either.

What you could do is get a character to ask another what they opinion is on a historical event in their world which is having impact on their world today. We say history goes around in cycles. There’s nothing to stop that being true in your fictional creations.

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This World and Others – Compare and Contrast

A good way to get started with creating a new setting is to compare what you think you want to write about with what we know exists here. For example:-

Planet Earth has 71% of its surface covered in water. That in turn means we have all sorts of creatures living in water or around it or who are dependent on food from it. So what if your fictional world didn’t have water? What would it have it instead? What creatures would live in that substance? Equally if there is a reason for your world not to have water, as we know it, what is that reason? Is it because your world is a gas giant say and what your characters depend on is being able to breathe using that gas?

Politically, you can take what we know here about democracies and dictatorships and apply them directly to your creation or come up with direct opposites. Equally you can have your world have something that is far superior or inferior to what we have here, depending on your preferences.

For characters, you can take what we know about human behaviour and apply that directly to your alien being. Or your alien being has a totally different nature to ours – e.g. it is not motivated by a desire to survive, it is motivated by a desire to befriend other species so all survive.

But comparing and contrasting is a great place to start. It can help you find a way in to your world and character building.

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Thought it would be useful to share my latest newsletter here too. If you want to sign up please head up over to my landing page.

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Publication News, Alternative Worlds, and Dialogue

Image Credit:-

All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated.

Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.

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

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

Creativity Matters - and my two flash collections

Facebook – General

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bonus Post – 29th August – More than Writers

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

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

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


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

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

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

 


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

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

 

Goodreads Author Blog – Dialogue in Books

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

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

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

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

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

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Exciting News: Creativity Matters

Image Credits:-

All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated.

Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.

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

Some images created in Book Brush by me, Allison Symes, for the Creativity Matters book and with Pixabay images for other posts.

It has been a fabulous start to the week with very exciting publication news. More details below. (Image below, which I LOVE as you can imagine, provided by #WendyHJones, as is the one further down showing all of the authors taking part in the Creativity Matters book).

Allison Symes and Creativity Matters

Facebook – General

Nice to take Lady out on a big walk this afternoon after I resumed swimming again. Nice to get back to that too.

Swanwick feels like an age away now! I’m pleased to say I’ll be taking part in another writing event later in the year. More details nearer the time but am looking forward to it as I will be running a workshop and giving an author talk.

Just a quick reminder I send out my author newsletter on the first of the month. I share writing tips, stories, news etc in this and sometimes share an exclusive YouTube video of a mini flash tale. When I thought about what I should put in a newsletter, I put my reader’s hat on and went for features I knew I would enjoy if I was receiving the newsletter myself. To me, that seemed a sensible starting point.

If you would like to sign up for (and a big hello to those who already have), please head to my landing page at https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com

Newsletter advertYoutube icon

Hope you have had a good start to the working week. Delighted to say that, despite only being on pre-order at the moment (until 1st September so not long to wait for actual availability) Creativity Matters: Find Your Passion for Writing is doing extremely well on Amazon. Lovely start to the week for all of us involved with this book and well done to #WendyHJones, the mastermind behind this book.

Am also thrilled to say the book has reached No.1 in the Hot New Releases category (see screenshot) and the paperback is now available on pre-order. So lots going on! It was a joy to write a chapter on Why Write Flash Fiction and Short Stories.

Creativity Matters - Number 1 Hot New Releases


Hope you have had a good Sunday. Many thanks for the wonderful response to the pre-order news about Creativity Matters: Find Your Passion for Writing yesterday. See below. I now have the Amazon link for this – see below for that.

This week on Chandler’s Ford Today, I will be talking about how special the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School is and looking at the benefits of going to it. I can say those of us who went are suffering withdrawal symptoms but it was so good to meet up in person again with friends I’ve not seen for such a long time. I am grateful for Facebook and Zoom keeping communications going in the meantime. Both of these things have been a lifeline for me this last year or so.

Am working on non-fiction in another capacity too at the moment as I am preparing presentations for future use. I used to use PowerPoint years ago but then it fell out of fashion. Zoom has effectively brought it back as it is an excellent tool to use when screen sharing. Again not something I was doing a year ago but prove again, if needed, the writing journey is not static and you do keep learning. That in turn is good for the old brain and your creativity overall I find.

Chandler's Ford Today post reminder picture(1)

PUBLICATION NEWS

Am thrilled to announce Creativity Matters: Find Your Passion for Writing is now available for pre-order. It comes out on 1st September. Currently in ebook only but it will be available in paperback as well soon. Will share details on that as and when I can but watch this space as they say.

My chapter in this book is Why Write Flash Fiction and Short Stories and it was a joy to write. This will be my first non-fiction work in print and I hope there will be more to come in this area for me over time.

Later, on 3rd September, I will be posting on Chandler’s Ford Today my interview with #WendyHJones as publishing other authors is a new venture for her. I look forward to sharing a great in depth talk with her about why she went this route on her own writing journey, the new skills she had to learn to do this, and she shares three fabulous tips for writers for getting the best out of working with their editor and publisher. All very useful material and I can’t wait to share that soon.

Creativity Matters-2

 

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Despite technology, it still pays to keep a notebook and pen to hand. Why?

If I’m feeling ground down and uninspired (and it happens to us all, usually a case of life getting in the way), I turn to said notebook and flick through it looking for ideas that give me a “spark”. I usually find something and once I’m drafting the story, I feel much happier.

I jot down in said notebook ideas for stories but also things like interesting titles. For those, I work out what I could do (often using a spider diagram to work out different lines of approach). It is also reassuring to have that notebook to hand so I know I’ve got something to refer to – and while I still like pen and paper, I do also use Evernote for this kind of thing. Who ever said you had to only have one notebook?

It is perhaps appropriate for a flash fiction writer to have brief notes for later use. I’m well under the 1000 words limit when I’m jotting ideas down.

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It’s not every day I hit No.1 in the Amazon Hot New Releases category but Creativity Matters: Find Your Passion for Writing has done that today. (23rd August 2021). Well done to all of the other authors involved and to #WendyHJones. (You can now pre-order ebook and paperback – hooray!). So a great start to the week.

In other news, as they say, I am delighted to share my latest YouTube video. Hope you enjoy Decisions.

 

I now have an Amazon link for Creativity Matters: Find Your Passion for Writing. See below for that. It was a great pleasure to write a chapter praising the merits of flash fiction and short story writing.

Talking of flash pieces, may I say a huge thanks to all who have already given feedback on my latest #FridayFlashFiction story, Discretion. The feedback is much appreciated. And congratulations to all of the writers who were listed in their recent competition, which was designed to blend in with the Edinburgh Festival competition.

Am also looking forward to taking part in an online flash group meeting (Association of Christian Writers) next week. Flash fiction is great to share on Zoom as well as in Open Prose Mic Nights.

Screenshot 2021-08-20 at 19-19-31 Discretion by Allison Symes

The big news is the release in ebook of Creativity Matters: Find Your Passion for Writing. I contributed a chapter called Why Write Flash Fiction and Short Stories and it was a delight to answer that question in said chapter! The book is compiled and edited by #WendyHJones and will be out in paperback as well soon. I am delighted to be “between the covers” with excellent writers for company and thrilled this is my first non-fiction work out in print (as opposed to online).

I am always happy to write and talk about flash fiction and short stories!

Always a joy to talk or write about flash fiction

Goodreads Author Blogs – “Real” Books

What do I mean by “real” books? I have no time for the “proper” book -v- ebook debate. Both have their merits and disadvantages. I also hope ebooks have encouraged more reading by bringing books to a screen very near you – that is one in your own pocket! I also want people to discover the joy of paperbacks from reading ebooks if books in general have been a closed chapter to them prior to reading on screen.

For me a “real” book is a novel that has characters who gripped me all the way through and wouldn’t let go until I did find out what had happened to them.

For short story and flash collections, I want to be gripped by the characters, but also by wanting to find out what the next story is about, the one after that and so on.

For non-fiction, I want to be gripped by the way the author is putting the information across so I have to find out what the conclusions were or, in the case of say a Ben Macintyre book, what happened to the real life character he is writing about.

The ultimate test for a “real” book is whether you can bear to put it down to do other things such as go to sleep. If you do so reluctantly, it is a great and “real” book all right!

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CafeLit, Creativity Matters, and an Interview

Image Credit:-

All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Some images created in Book Brush using Pixabay photos.

Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.

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

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

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

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

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

BookBrushImage-2021-7-6-20-111

Facebook – General

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

And now I can show you the cover too!

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

Allison Symes - Contribution to Creativity Matters


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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

 


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

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

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

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

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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Goodreads Author Blog – Changes in Reading Tastes

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

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

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

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

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

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Genres, Opening Lines, and Publication News

https://morethanwriters.blogspot.com/2021/06/genres-by-allison-symes.htmlImage Credit:-

All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Some images created in Book Brush using Pixabay photos.

Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.

Hope all is well with you. Glad to share two new stories this time – one from Friday Flash Fiction and another from my Youtube channel. Hope you enjoy. Also have publication news from CafeLit and an update about my contribution to Wendy H Jones’ book on Creativity Matters: Find Your Passion for Writing so plenty going on. (Images of me signing my contract for the latter were taken by Adrian Symes).

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


Facebook – General – and Association of Christian Writers – More Than Writers

Delighted to share my blog on More Than Writers, the blog spot from the Association of Christian Writers. I talk about Genres this month and define a few (having fun doing so too!). I chat about why I love ghost stories where the ghost is not the villain, give you pointers regarding major things to look out for in a fantasy novel, and ask you what are your favourite genres and why amongst other things.

So what are your favourite genres and why? Fairytales/fantasy are it for me though I do love crime and historical fiction as well. Is there a book that took you by surprise as to how good or bad it was? For me, The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey surprised me in a good way and changed my view about Richard III.

I don’t have any time for the snobbery that can prevail around genre fiction. A good book is a good book and if it is accessible to more people because it is in a certain genre, so be it.

You sometimes have days when there is lots to announce. Today is one of mine!

1. I’ve seen the book cover for Creativity Matters: Find Your Passion For Writing by Wendy H. Jones where I am contributing a chapter on flash fiction and short story writing. Can’t reveal the cover yet. Looking forward to doing so. It looks great. Trust me on that!

2. Delighted to say From Light to Dark and Back Again is now up on the Bridgetown Cafe Bookshop. Oh and the great thing about the bookshop is there are a variety of places to buy from too. See link for more.

3. There will be some fabulous author interviews to come on Chandler’s Ford Today, starting this very Friday, 2nd July, with part 1 of my chat with domestic noir writer, Helen Matthews. (I always learn a lot from reading/listening to author interviews which is why I love having writers on CFT).

4. I’ll be on the More than Writers blog spot tomorrow (for the Association of Christian Writers) with a humorous piece about Genres. Looking forward to sharing the link for that tomorrow. See above!

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Hope you have had a nice Sunday. It was lovely having family over in the garden yesterday (and what change in the weather today – it’s chucking it down as I type this!).

I’ll be sharing the first part of a fabulous interview with domestic noir writer, Helen Matthews, later this week on Chandler’s Ford Today. Looking forward to sharing that. I always learn so much from author interviews and it is a pleasure to be doing them.

I’m thrilled that so many wonderful comments are coming in on my latest #FridayFlashFiction story, Restless. You can check it out at https://www.fridayflashfiction.com/100-word-stories/restless-by-allison-symes

Have sent another story in for them and I’m delighted to say I’ll be having another story up on CafeLit before too long as well. So it has been quite a productive weekend.

Hope you have a good week! (I also hope the weather improves somewhat but we shall see).

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Today (26th June) would have been my Dad’s 84th birthday. It’s a strange day in many ways, as you can imagine. I was pleased he got to see my debut published book, From Light to Dark and Back Again, as my late mum only got to see my first printed story, A Helping Hand in Alternative Renditions (Bridge House Publishing). There is a kind of symmetry to that I think.

I occasionally use a character’s memories in my flash tales. The obvious two are The Pink Rose in Tripping the Flash Fantastic and They Don’t Understand in my debut collection.

Flash fiction can be a great vehicle for character studies like these precisely because they work best when kept short. The impact on a reader is greater too because of the brevity. What matters is getting across what is the important thing about the character you are writing about. What is it about them that readers have to know?

(Oh and on a very happy note, I’ve booked my train tickets for the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School in August. Can’t wait to catch up with people there).

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

When do you know your flash fiction or short story character “works”? When they intrigue you enough to write their stories up is the answer that works for me. As I outline my character and discover more things about them, if they grip me at that point, they should do so for a reader as well so away I go.

Also just a quick reminder I share writing tips and exclusive flash stories over at my author newsletter which I issue monthly. The next one is out on 1st July so if you’d like to sign up for this do head over to my landing page at https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com where you’ll find the relevant sign up form. You’ll receive a welcome email initially with a link to a free pdf download where I chat about flash and share exclusive stories there. (And a big thank you to those who have signed up already – it is great to have you aboard).

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Pleased to share my latest story video here. Hope you enjoy Borrowing.

 

27th June
Delighted to say I’ll be having a flash piece, written as a result of a writing exercise I set for the Association of Christian Writers Flash Fiction group, up on CafeLit on 5th July. That is what I call a result and I look forward to sharing it then.

I love opening lines as an exercise. There are usually at least two or three directions in which to take them too. (That makes me feel like a kid with the keys to the chocolate factory!). I suppose the reason I love them so much is I know I am “away” once I’ve got that line down, and knowing who my character is and what they’re capable of, means I’ve got the opening line and a structure in place. I find that so useful.

Funnily enough it’s not a question of then joining the dots. I still have to show my character developing and changing but my structure means the change is reasonable for the character and so will make sense to a reader.

I can still wrongfoot a reader (and often do) but if you then went back over the story you would find the clues were there to indicate the wrong-footing was possible given what you are shown of the character. (I love this when other authors achieve this with me whether it is a short story or a novel. It keeps me on my toes and I have learned so much about how to place things in a story to achieve this).

Have managed to get another flash pieces “off” this weekend – another one to #FridayFlashFiction. I am having so much fun writing the drabbles (100 worders) again as those are what drew me into flash fiction writing in the first place.


One idea for a story is to take a date that is special to you and make it special for your character. The reasons could be the same or the polar opposite. Either way you could write an interesting character study out of this.

Dates mean something for a reason and, especially if you don’t choose the well known ones such as Christmas or Mother’s/Father’s Day, you could show us a character with a unique take on life due to the reason they cherish the date you’ve picked for them.

Also, are there dates your characters would be keen to avoid and what would happen if they can’t get out of whatever is happening on the date in question? There’s potential for comedy and tragedy there – up to you which direction you take it.

But having a special date will reveal something of your character to you as the writer. If that appeals, it will appeal to a reader also. (Also there would be broad sympathy given most of us have dates that mean something to use and not to others).

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Goodreads Author Blog – What Makes a Good Story Ending For You?

Story endings don’t have to be happy ones. For some tales, a happy ending would be inappropriate. But what would you class as a “good” story ending?

For me the ending has to be appropriate for the kind of tale being told and for the character.

It was clear in A Christmas Carol, for instance, that Scrooge would have to change. It was a question there of how it would be done. Had Scrooge not changed, there would have been no point in the visitations of the ghosts and there would have been no story.

So I am looking for change to have happened by the end of the story. Being a fairly positive person, I like these changes to be as upbeat as possible. Failing that, I’ll be happy with a kind of “yes, that’s appropriate for this character”.

What you don’t want is a feeling of disappointment that the story hasn’t been closed off properly. There should be no loose ends. The character should have learned something and moved on from the starting point of the story. If that learning something and moving on is something I can identify with, then that makes it an even better ending for me.

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Brand Recognition and Why Reading Into Writing Will Go

Image Credit:-

All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Some images created in Book Brush using Pixabay photos.

Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.

Image of Wendy H Jones kindly supplied by her. Image of Joy Margetts kindly supplied by her.  Image of Maressa Mortimer kindly supplied by her. Images of me, Allison Symes, happily signing a contract taken by Adrian Symes. Think that covers everyone!

Hope you have had a good week. Busy on the blogging front today – more below. (And I have some exciting non-fiction publication news too).

IMPACT - Blogging. Pixabay

Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

Pleased to share my latest Chandler’s Ford Today post on Brand Recognition and Why It Matters. Years ago, any kind of marketing was done by publishers on behalf of their authors. That practice went out when Noah left the Ark…

Now every writer has to carry out at least some marketing to get their voice heard and books known about so it means we do all have to think about what “brand” we want to get across to potential readers. You want something so that people recognise yes, this is X’s kind of thing etc. In this post, I share some thoughts on creativity, persistence, accepting building a brand takes time, choosing a platform and so on.

Hope you find the post useful.

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Facebook – General – and Authors Electric

It’s a busy day on the blogging front for me. Am pleased to share my latest Authors Electric post – Reading Into Writing Will Go.

I think a love of reading is the biggest creative kickstart for writing there can be. A love of stories and storytelling has to come from somewhere after all.

I also share in this post how that love of reading, started by my late mother, was fuelled even further by excellent English teaching at school. What I wasn’t aware of at the time was the kind of teaching I had was going to come in so useful for writing my own stories so many years later.

And reading so well gives you an almost subconscious method of spotting how a book should look, how dialogue should be set out and so on. So let’s hear it for reading!

PUBLICATION NEWS


Am thrilled to announce I am taking part in a non-fiction book produced by #WendyHJones. What I can say now is the book will be called Creativity Matters: Find Your Passion for Writing and I will be “between the covers” with the following lovely people, as well as with Wendy herself.

Kirsten Bett
Lorraine Smith
Allison Symes (I have heard she’s okay – honest).
Nanette Fairley
Jennifer Ngulube
Andrew Chamberlain
Maressa Mortimer
Elizabeth Power
Janet Wilson
Fay Rowland
Joy Margetts

Looking forward to sharing more as and when I can. What I can also say now is this book will be the third in Wendy’s Writing Matters series (and it so does!). Very excited about this as it will be my first venture in print with the non-fiction side of what I do. Yay!

(And yes I am rather chuffed about it all as you may be able to tell).


Hope you are all well. A tad cooler today though storms are predicted later. Thankfully Lady is not fazed by thunder. My other two collies were terrified of it. Lady is not fazed by fireworks eit- ther though she does get annoyed thanks to the idiot near me who sets off the very loud ones late at night (and they really do sound like a bomb going off). You can hear Lady’s annoyance in her bark. Very much a “would you shut the hell up” kind of bark. No prizes for guessing where my sympathies lie.

Where do you go for publishing advice if you’re new to the business? There are two major ports of call as far as I’m concerned.

Firstly, the Society of Authors saved me a small fortune by pointing out what was wrong with a very dodgy contract I’d been offered. Beware the vanity press!

Secondly, the Alliance of Independent Authors is an umbrella group designed for indie authors and the self published so do check them out.

Thirdly, do regularly look at the Writer Beware! website. While US-based, the advice given is sound and boundaries are meaning less here as scammers will always seek to scam in more than one market if they possibly can!

Always check things out before signing up to anything.

You can (and should) walk away from anything you’re not happy about (I did and I had no sign of being published anywhere else at the time but I have never regretted doing this).

Never sign anything you have not had checked out by reputable sources.

Do check out the writing forums. People do share their experiences of publishing companies and services here and you can learn a great deal here.

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Delighted to share my latest tale from #FridayFlashFiction – this one is called Security. It is not easy being a leprechaun charged with not allowing anyone or anything to steal the gold. See how he gets on in my latest 100-word drabble.

Screenshot 2021-06-18 at 11-42-11 Security, by Allison Symes


One of my favourite tricks of the trade is to stamp on adjectives. I know, I know. There ought to be a campaign against cruelty to adjectives but there isn’t so really tough luck. (See what I did there).

To be serious for a moment, I no longer worry about cutting words like this out. Why?

Compare the following:-

She ran quickly up the hill.
She raced up the hill.

For my money, the latter is by far the stronger image. You have a sense of speed and determination with that word “raced”, even a sense of urgency and that is conveyed in one word. Running quickly is far weaker. What is quick after all? That can vary so I would say this was not specific enough. It does not give you the sense of speed, determination, and urgency either.

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Many thanks for the great response to my WordPress blog round up on my https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com site yesterday. I issue these every Tuesday and Friday. I like to see them as a kind of magazine style round up (and it makes a great place to share videos and flash stories in one place). And this is it, of course, but I was particularly pleased with the response on Facebook for when I shared the link for Tuesday’s post. It was a good one!

Flash is a great vehicle for sharing on social media. I sometimes take part on Twitter in those posts which put up a picture and ask you to submit a six words or fewer story in response to it. All good fun.

The biggest overall benefit for writing flash though has been to sharpen up my writing across the board including for my non-fiction. It is an ongoing benefit too! It has taught me to look for where I can tighten my writing. There always is something. But that’s what the editing process is for after all.

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Fairytales with Bite – Top Ten – What Not To Do In a Magical World

  • Annoy anyone who looks as if they could wave a wand about menacingly. It’s never a good move.
  • Judge beings by their appearance. Best to assume even the most unlikely looking being is more powerful magically than you are. You won’t offend. They won’t curse you.
  • Assume just because you can read, you can make a spell book work for you. Things will go horribly wrong.
  • Gaze into a complete stranger’s crystal ball. What you will see will not be pleasant. Any sensible owner of such things will put something horrible over it to prevent what we would know as hacking.
  • Eat or drink anything where you don’t know what the ingredients are. This is a good move in non-magical worlds too.
  • Call for a republic when you’re in the Fairy Kingdom. It’s not going to go down well.
  • Despise the youngest of three – they usually turn out to be the hero/heroine. You will want them to remember you, be kind to you, and maybe help you get home again.
  • Refer to dragons as great, big ugly brutes. Not only do they want to be treated with respect, they have remarkable powers so assume your comments would be overheard. They would want revenge though it would be quick one.
  • Eat a complete stranger’s porridge, break their chair etc. It’s been done and it didn’t bode well for the culprit last time.
  • Buy cheap looking building materials from anyone wearing what looks like a very hairy suit. If you want to build a house to live in, always go for brick. The one in the hairy suit has motives of their own for selling you shoddy materials (though he does have a dinner date in mind. A one-sided one but it would be a dinner date).

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This World and Others – Classic Mistakes

Now a topic like this can cover classic mistakes made by characters or you, the writer. I’ll focus on the latter for this post as my Fairytales with Bite post above does indicate mistakes that can be made by characters.

Don’t feel you need to put in all the information you needed to create your world into your story. You need enough to convince yourself your world is real but the reader doesn’t necessarily need to know all of that. What a reader will pick up on is the writer’s confidence in their creation. Focus on showing your readers what they need to know to make sense of your world.

I love writing dialogue or even a character’s thoughts in my flash fiction and short stories. But it has to be relevant to your story and to keep it moving forward or it reveals crucial information. It is so tempting to keep an interesting conversation going between your people when it isn’t that important to the plot.

Don’t use too much of whatever language you’ve invented because readers will quickly become bored of it if they can’t work out what is meant from context. Use a little sparingly to give a flavour and that will work far better. I find reading Old English incredibly difficult, to name one example, and it is the story you want to get across to your readers, not the ins and outs of what you’ve invented to give them the story. (With The Lord of the Rings it is the overall story I’m interested in, not necessarily the appendices!). Keep it relevant Is a good motto.

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