BEGINNINGS AND ENDINGS

Well, it is an appropriate theme given we’re rapidly heading out of 2017 and into 2018.  Happy New Year to you all!  I hope your writing and/or reading brings you much joy in the New Year.  Literacy is a truly wonderful thing…

Facebook – General – Story Endings

When is a story finished? When the ending is appropriate for the tale and to add any more would be to “over-egg the pudding”.

I often get to a point when I’ve finished the story and realise I’ve gone on a bit beyond where I really need to be so out those extra bits come. They don’t push the tale forward or add anything useful.

For me, that’s the guiding principle when I’m editing. Do I REALLY need this in the story? The same goes for the ending though I’m also looking for maximum impact on a reader so I ask myself does this line achieve that? My finishing line must always be that one which does achieve that impact and then it is time to go!

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Facebook – General – Story Beginnings

When it comes to the start of a tale, I find I begin and then, later, cut until I get to the “real” beginning of the story.

I often don’t know the “real” start of the tale until I have written the whole thing and look back and see this point here would make a better start than what I originally came up with, but that’s fine. I see my original start point as the basis for getting on with the story. Everything, including that, can be tidied up or cut as appropriate later.

The deciding factor is which starting point has the most impact. It’s the same factor that helps me work out what the ending should be.

Happy New Year to you all. Happy writing and editing too!

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Contrary to its name, flash fiction isn’t written in a hurry! The real work comes in when you have a story and you need to edit it down without losing its meaning and yet it still counts as flash.

There are other names for flash fiction. I think my favourite of these is postcard fiction as this sums the genre up very well. What you can write on a back of a postcard basically would be a flash fiction story. (This gives me some scope as my handwriting is tiny and my postcards to friends and family are legendary for the amount of information I can get on these things!).

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Firstly, happy New Year to you all! Secondly, hope 2018 is a great writing year for everybody.

The highlight of 2017 for me was obviously the publication of From Light to Dark and Back Again. Am currently putting the finishing touches to the follow-up book. Would like to write more stories in 2018 than I did last year and have some thoughts as to how I will achieve that. Will hopefully say in a later post if what I think works!

I hope flash fiction continues to go from strength to strength and that more reluctant readers find it a useful way of getting “into” stories at all. Now that would be a result…

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Goodreads Author Programme – Blog

I must admit the book cover has got to lure me into wanting to read the blurb. Once the blurb has then interested me, I will read the opening paragraph or two and then if still interested, I buy the book.

There are exceptions. I’m a huge fan of history (fiction and non-fiction) and almost anything on Richard III is going to trigger my immediate interest. Much as I love the Bard of Avon, I don’t rely on HIM for historical accuracy!

One of my favourite novels is The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey. The title comes from the phrase “Truth is the daughter of time”, which I think is lovely. It is also one of the few books to make me change my mind about something, in this case, the guilty of Richard III regarding the Princes in the Tower.

The book’s “star” is Inspector Alan Grant who is confined to a hospital bed by a nasty accident and who decides to investigate Richard III from that bed as a means of passing the time (Grant is VERY bored in the hospital). The conclusions Grant reach are startling. Highly recommend this great book.

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Allison Symes’s books on Goodreads

 

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Reviews and Writing Plans

It is the time of year for reviews but I look at how these can be useful for writers.

Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

Busy night tonight and a good way to wrap up for 2017! Firstly my monthly blog for Association of Christian Writers’ blog site, More than Writers, is now up on site. I look at what starts Christmas for me and why the story of Herod rings so true. People preparing to keep their position by committing murder etc – well it is not a new phenomenon, unfortunately.

Secondly, my weekly Chandler’s Ford Today post is now up. I look at personal reviews and share how they can be useful for writers in generating characters. Non-fiction writers can use personal reviews too.

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

A busy night on the blogging front with posts up from me for ACW’s More Than Writers slot and my weekly CFT slot. For the first, I look at how the story of Herod makes the Christmas story so realistic, given people being prepared to murder to hold on to their position in life is sadly nothing new. For the second, I look at personal reviews and how they can be useful to writers. (Links above).

On the flash fiction front, I hope to enter more competitions during this coming year. I also hope to write more short stories and I have one or two longer projects I would like to at least make a start on in 2018. As ever, I would like to read more too!

Whatever your writing or reading plans, may I wish you all the best for 2018.

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Fairytales with Bite – Happy New Year!

Firstly,  may I wish you a very happy New Year!

Secondly, and continuing with my theme of looking back from last week, my current Chandler’s Ford Today post looks at how personal reviews (so common at this time of year) can be really useful to writers for character and story generation.  Reviews like this can also be used in non-fiction writing.

Thirdly, my monthly blog for the Association of Christian Writers’ page,  More than Writers, looks at Christmas favourites and how Christmas starts for me.  It isn’t with Black Friday!

So what are your writing/reading/both plans for 2018?  I hope to enter more flash fiction competitions and read more.  I would like my characters to develop more in the next year too.  How?  By perhaps resonating more with readers.  By my bringing in a depth to them that perhaps I haven’t done before.  This isn’t necessarily done with more words.  Flash fiction is the ultimate in the less is more syndrome for writing.  It is picking stronger words that convey more meaning which will help me develop depth of character more.

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This World and Others – Writing Plans

I always write in my new writing diary what I would like to achieve in the coming year. I try to achieve as many as possible but don’t beat myself up on what I can’t get done. Sometimes that is because I have tried something else completely (in my case, I did this with flash fiction) and you end up going down a path that you hadn’t anticipated. In my case with the flash fiction, it has proven to be a very enjoyable path so I’m planning to stick to it!

I never set anything in stone then but am open to new possibilities. I hope to enter more flash fiction competitions in 2018 (and submit more to online magazines I’m already involved in) but if I spot a genuine writing contest which looks interesting, I may well give it a go. (Incidentally I always do check out the background of any competition I’m entering and look for what others have said about it, which I think is a wise idea and one I can’t recommend highly enough).

So what are your writing plans for this year? I am also hoping to start at least one longer term project in the next 12 months. Are you looking forward to the writing you will be doing this year? You should be!

I wish you a very happy 2018 and good luck with the writing.

 

 

REVIEWS – BY WRITER AND CHARACTERS!

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My latest CFT post takes a look back at my writing year and I also share some recently published stories of mine on Cafelit. All have a Christmas theme. I hope you enjoy them and that you have a lovely Christmas.

I must admit I think the picture I found on Pixabay to use as my feature image for this week’s post is probably the loveliest I’ve used ever. I just love the colours in this one.

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

A little Christmas scene…

In the middle of the Christmas rush
There was an old man carving a brush
He was clearly an expert in wood
He could make any timber look good
Right by the old High Street church he was
He so wanted to be there because
The God he loved was a carpenter
A worker should be at the centre
Of the scene, as the shepherds had been
There long before the wise men were seen.
The man liked a God who worked with His hands
In the tableau He was in swaddling bands.

Allison Symes – 22nd December 2017

I hope you have a wonderful Christmas. (Oh and I’ve nothing against the wise men incidentally. They would have been highly educated men. It is interesting to see the wide variety of people who were at that first Christmas).

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Fairytales With Bite – Looking Back

Looking back/reviews is my theme for tonight as I cover this in my This World and Others post where I talk about the usefulness of reviews and for my Chandler’s Ford Today post this week where I look back at my writing year.  (I also share some recently published stories of mine from Cafelit, all on a Christmas theme.  Hope you like them).

Do your characters look back at their lives at all?  (You should as their creator!  Have they developed?  If so, positively or negatively?  How does this impact on the story?).  If the characters do look back at their own lives, why are they doing it?  Are they trying to learn from past mistakes and do they actually do so?  How does that “look back” change their behaviour (for better or worse) and how does that change the direction in which they go?

Sometimes Character B can look back at Character A’s life and this can be because:-

1.  They don’t like the changes in A’s life now (and they may be right to take that view!).  By drawing A’s attention to this, B is hoping to get A back to where they used to be.

2.  Character B is comparing themselves with A, especially if A has gone on to be really successful.  (We all do this for real so why shouldn’t our characters do so?!  What is interesting here is how does B respond?  Are they jealous?  Do they seek to improve themselves or try to “do A down”?).

3.  Character B is delighted Character A has changed (and again they may well be right.  Equally they may be pleased because A has worsened and it makes B look better!  B does not have to have noble motives here!).

All three of these points could generate some fascinating stories.  Happy writing – and I hope you receive plenty of books, in whichever format, over Christmas.  Stories are wonderful and Christmas is a great time to celebrate them.  As a Christian, I celebrate what, for me, is the greatest story – that of Christ’s birth in Bethlehem, but whether you share my beliefs or not, I hope you have a lovely Christmas season and New Year.

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This World and Others – Reviews

My latest Chandler’s Ford Today post reviews my writing year and, while on topic, I thought I’d look at how useful reviews can be whatever you write.

Obviously anyone with a book out there, including me, appreciates reviews on various websites as they do help.  An honest one or two line review is enormously helpful so do please put them up.  (And yes, do say what you dislike about a book as well as what you like about it.  Honesty is vital.  Amazon have, understandably, clamped down on reviews they think were written by the writer’s granny or by rival writers who are wielding a hatchet!).

I always carry out an end of year review and tick off the things achieved, carry certain things over (I will always want to have flash fiction work and short stories out there so this is ongoing) and perhaps look at why other things I hoped to achieve didn’t happen.  I then look at whether I can do better on these ideas in the coming year or whether it was the ideas themselves that weren’t strong enough etc.

There will always be things I’m disappointed I didn’t achieve, that’s life, but that’s no reason to NOT have another go in the year to come!

Carols, Stories and Comedy

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Really enjoyed the Carols and Lessons at Romsey URC on Sunday though am so glad I was nowhere near the candles! Lovely though they were, I must admit I’m not much of a fan of candles. The practical side of me keeps thinking “fire hazard”.

(On the other hand, I DO love four candles… Two Ronnies anyone?).

The church looked lovely, I enjoyed the Christmas story as ever and there were some thoughtful poems too. Had a good old sing too. Good for the lungs and the soul!

Over the next week or so, I’ll probably watch A Christmas Carol. (My favourite version is the Muppet one with Michael Caine. I love Marley and Marley with the two old hecklers).

Then I must try and watch Hogfather but I must admit I don’t think you can beat Dickens for a corker of a Christmas story. Indeed how many writers can say they add to the Christmas traditions? (I’m thinking Christina Rossetti for In the Bleak Midwinter and Clement Clark Moore for The Night Before Christmas but it is Dickens I think of first when it comes to festive tales).

Facebook – General – Stories

Which type of stories grip you the most? The twist in the tale or the “slow burn” story where it takes a while for the tale to “get going”? I love both. The slow burn story often resonates with me for a long time after initially reading it. I would count many of my character studies as being slow burn type tales.

I like a story to have a good pace (and for it to be appropriate to the tale). I like a good ending (i.e. one that’s suitable for the type of story. I love story endings that surprise me even better as I enjoy guessing how the story will finish long before I get to that point. I like being right but all kudos to any writer who can outfox me.). I look to be totally immersed in the world of that story for the duration of it.

Character types that particularly appeal to me are those that overcome adversity (especially if they are not expected to). I like brave characters, even if their bravery is limited to a domestic environment. Which type of characters appeal to you the most?

 

 

Facebook – General – Story Formats

Following on from my recent post about what stories grip you, what story format do you prefer? I must admit nothing, to my mind, will ever beat the paperback but I love the Kindle (especially when going on holiday. It makes packing books a doddle!).

I’m also very fond of audiobooks, as are other members of my family who wouldn’t wade through a “proper” book. (Given the size of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, to name one example. I can understand this. Don’t agree with it but do understand it!).

Facebook – General – Classic Comedy

My Chandler’s Ford Today post this week will take a look back at my writing year. I’ll also be sharing some Cafelit stories of mine too. Well, you have to have stories at Christmas, don’t you? More on Friday.

Have been doing plenty of carol singing the last couple of days in church and whenever Classic FM puts some on. The latter has meant Lady has been a bit bemused. (She has almost certainly put it down as one of those strange things her human does – and quite right too!). I do like a good sing.

Am enjoying reading the joint biography of Morecambe and Wise on Kindle at the moment. It’s bringing back many happy memories and I still love Eric and Ernie. Happily, this means I can link back to classical music again. Anyone for Grieg’s Piano Concerto by Grieg as played by Eric Morecambe?

 

Classic music can make a classic film

Classical music is wonderful.  Combine it with classic comedy and it’s even better.  Image via Pixabay.

 

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Rudolph the red nosed reindeer
Knew the others would just sneer
At his odd nasal arrangement
Their teasing was just torment
What he wouldn’t give for a beer!

Copyright:  Allison Symes – December 2017

Okay, the Poet Laureate’s joke is safe but I am partial to the odd limerick. Some of mine are very odd!

Am editing what I hope will be book 2. Hope enjoying re-reading what I wrote some months ago now is a good sign. Below is a link to a recent story of mine on Cafelit. For some reason, there seems to be a Christmas theme!

Facebook From Light to Dark and Back Again – Talking Flash!

Flash fiction has to condense all that you look for in a standard short story into a much tighter word count, yet still be entertaining/gripping etc. Learning to write for flash fiction has improved my editing skills a lot for I know now what my wasted, often repetitive, words are (so those can be cut immediately).

Stories often shed light on what it is to be human. With flash, it is a case of shedding a powerful spotlight! Dare you be caught in its beam?!

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Flash fiction for impact. Image via Pixabay

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Flash – for light or dark fiction! Image via Pixabay

Not all of my flash fiction ends up at the 100-word mark. I find that my next category tends to fall anywhere between 150 and 500 words and these are often my character studies, where I need just that little bit more room to “show the characters off”.

The most important thing is that the story is the correct length for what you want to convey in that tale. Some of my tales simply wouldn’t work if I tried to compress them to 100 words. Simple answer – don’t compress them! When editing I look at the story first, has it said all I wanted it to say? Then I look to see if can do that in fewer words. Often I can, sometimes I can’t, but I have learned not to worry about that!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stories at Christmas

Facebook – General

Really enjoyed the Carols and Lessons at Romsey URC tonight though am so glad I was nowhere near the candles! Lovely though they were, I must admit I’m not much of a fan of candles. The practical side of me keeps thinking “fire hazard”.

(On the other hand, I DO love four candles… Two Ronnies anyone?).

The church looked lovely, I enjoyed the Christmas story as ever and there were some thoughtful poems too. Had a good old sing too. Good for the lungs and the soul!

Over the next week or so, I’ll probably watch A Christmas Carol. (My favourite version is the Muppet one with Michael Caine. I love Marley and Marley with the two old hecklers).

Then I must try and watch Hogfather but I must admit I don’t think you can beat Dickens for a corker of a Christmas story. Indeed how many writers can say they add to the Christmas traditions? (I’m thinking Christina Rossetti for In the Bleak Midwinter and Clement Clark Moore for The Night Before Christmas but it is Dickens I think of first when it comes to festive tales).

DEC 2017 POST - Carol singing - two favourites here

Two favourite carols. Image by Pixabay

DEC 2017 POST - Christmas Candles

Christmas candles. Image by Pixabay.

DEC 2017 POST - These will be welcome after our big sing

Mince pies. Image by Pixabay.

Christmas scene - image via Pixabay

The Nativity. Image by Pixabay.

Facebook – General

One of my favourite things about Christmas Day is in the evening when we are all relaxing and I’m inevitably curled up on the sofa with a book and something nice to drink.

It’s that feeling of not having to do anything now that I think is so nice (and I feel less guilty about reading when I’ve “nothing to do”. I know I shouldn’t feel guilty about reading but I find it easier to relax with a good book, knowing I haven’t got a long list of chores to work through the moment I’ve finished a chapter).

So, yes, I’m hoping for books under the Christmas tree (and that Lady doesn’t get to them first!).

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Rudolph the red nosed reindeer
Knew the others would just sneer
At his odd nasal arrangement
Their teasing was just torment
What he wouldn’t give for a beer!

Allison Symes – 17th December 2017

Okay, the Poet Laureate’s joke is safe but I am partial to the odd limerick. Some of mine are very odd!

Am editing what I hope will be book 2. Hope enjoying re-reading what I wrote some months ago now is a good sign.  Here is a link to a recent story of mine on Cafelit. For some reason, there seems to be a Christmas theme!

Don’t forget to visit the Cafelit Advent Calendar for details of who is appearing on what day and what our style of story writing is. I’m glad to say there’s a nice mixed range here.

 

 

 

Goodreads Author Programme – Blog

My latest post on Goodreads is about the stories I love at Christmas and why having a writer in your life makes YOUR Christmas present shopping ever so easy!

My favourite stories at Christmas are the Nativity and Charles Dickens’s marvellous A Christmas Carol.

My favourite poem/carol is In the Bleak Midwinter (Christina Rossetti). I adore the imagery in this. As for Scrooge’s story, I love redemption stories and this is the classic one.

I like to watch the Muppet Christmas Carol (with Michael Caine as Scrooge) every year. One thing I love about it comes right at the end when Gonzo recommends reading the original book by Dickens. How many films promote reading the original book?!

My favourite time on Christmas Day itself comes in the evening when there really is nothing for me to have to do and I can curl up on the sofa and pick which book I was given as a present to start reading first. Naturally, there is a nice drink beside me too!

I’m hoping for a couple of historical books (non-fiction) this year. One lovely thing about having a writer in your life is you won’t run out of present ideas. We either want to read something or to have things that will help us write our own tales. So just ask and we will give you a list!

It does take something special though to add to Christmas traditions and Dickens and Rossetti both achieve that.

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STEPPING BACK IN TIME

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My Chandler’s Ford Today post this week is part 2 of my interview with paranormal historical fiction writer, Jennifer C Wilson.

She shares her thoughts on the joys and woes of writing ghost stories and crossing genres. She discusses the research she carries out and reveals what it was like to go to Richard III’s funeral. How many historical fiction writers can claim to have gone to the funeral of their subject several centuries later?!

Many thanks, Jennifer, for sharing your insights. Good luck with the next in the Kindred Spirits series too.

 

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

I must admit, with my dog walking hat on, I am not keen on the nights drawing in so early. (Lady is not that keen either!).

However, with my reading and writing hats on, the earlier nights do tend to encourage me to have cosy nights with something nice to drink (usually hot chocolate!), as I spoil myself with books and stories, whether I am reading them or doing my best to write them!

Yes, I do read and write during the spring and summer obviously, but there is something about the nights drawing in that drives me to my desk/book shelves that bit more readily! So there are compensations to the darkest of the seasons then…

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Facebook – Round-up Posts from From Light to Dark and Back Again

The real art to flash fiction writing is to be able to say something concisely and leave your readers to fill in the gaps. Good fun to write and read. I suppose in some ways it is the exact opposite of the epic novel.

Plans for next year include trying to enter more flash fiction competitions, hopefully having a second book out, and I’d like to do more with standard length short stories. Whether the plans come off is another matter!

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Flash – for light or dark fiction! Image via Pixabay

One great thing about having an author in your life is you won’t be short of ideas for Christmas presents for them!

There are the books they want to read, of course, (there WILL be a big list!) and then there’s the world of nice stationery. There are the notebook fans, writers can never have enough paper for the printer or ink cartridges/toners etc, and as for good quality pens…. lead me to them!

These days you can even buy gift vouchers for conferences, which I think is a fab idea and can make the difference to someone going or not going at all to such a thing.

So have fun choosing (and if you are the writer, get your wish list in!)

Blogging via diaries and tablets, ancient and modern technologies via Pixabay

What ever writer needs. Image via Pixabay

Fairytales With Bite – The Joys and Woes of Writing in Genres

My Chandler’s Ford Today post this week is part 2 of my interview with paranormal historical fiction writer, Jennifer C Wilson, author of the Kindred Spirits series.  She talks about the joys and woes of writing ghost stories/crossing genres.  If you are looking for ghost stories that are a bit different, do check out her series.  There are two books so far:  Kindred Spirits: Tower of London and Kindred Spirits:  Royal Mile.  The former “stars” Richard III and the latter Mary, Queen of Scots.  The common link here?  Fotheringay Castle – one for happy reasons, the other the complete opposite!

Whatever genre you write in, there will be challenges to overcome and joys to relish!  The important point, regardless of whatever genre you write in, is to ask yourself honestly would your story grip someone who doesn’t know you and who has discovered your stories by accident?  This is where having trusted beta readers can be really useful as they will point out what works and what doesn’t.  Another good way is to make yourself put your work away for a while before you come back to it and look at it with fresh eyes.  It is much easier to read  your book as a reader would if you do this.

One thing I did with From Light to Dark and Back Again was use Scrivener to export the book as a .mobi file so I could actually see what it would look like as an ebook.  By putting it into this format, I found it easier to pretend I was new to the book and so I could read and edit it far more effectively. (The ability to change formats in Scrivener is one of the things I love about it).

The real challenge to genre writing is to win over readers who are NOT already fans of it.  But it is a good challenge and keeps you on your toes as a writer!

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This World and Others – Stepping Back in Time

Time travel is possible….  if you’re a good historical fiction writer or wonderful composer like Ralph Vaughan Williams, whose Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis is, for me, one of my favourite pieces of music and conjures up the Elizabethan world so beautifully.

As for historical fiction, my Chandler’s Ford Today post this week is part 2 of my interview with Jennifer C Wilson.  She writes historical fiction crossed with ghost stories in her Kindred Spirits series.  In the interview, she shares some of the joys and woes of writing ghost stories/crossing genres and discusses the research she does for the historical side of her work.  If you are looking for ghost stories that are different, do check out her series.

Good historical fiction should make you feel as if you have stepped back in time and as if you are the proverbial fly on the wall in whatever era and setting the writer has chosen.  Can you sense the smells of that world?  Can you picture how things would look?

One thing about history I love, whether it is fiction or non-fiction, is the way it shows how others lived.  It makes me grateful for things I think we take for granted – the ability to read and write for the vast majority of us, decent sanitation etc.  It does no harm to reflect every so often how fortunate we are to have these.  They were not always a “given”.

So the secret here then is to give your readers enough information so they can picture and sense your world without giving them so much, they lose all sense of what the story is.   This is true for every genre you care to name too.

HAPPY EVER AFTER OR NOT?

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Do I have to have a happy ever after ending for stories I read or write?

Not necessarily but this is something that has changed as I’ve become older. I can happily read something that has a sad or tragic ending as long as it is in context with the rest of the story. This hasn’t always been the case. I used to avoid sad endings (on the grounds there’s enough sadness in the news, why on earth would I want it in my fiction?). Now my chief “want” in a story is that the ending is suitable for the story and character.

Good historical fiction will make it seem as if you had stepped back in time - image via Pixabay

Good fiction will take you out of the world for a while. Image via Pixabay.

Good books should bring illumination to a situation, make you see things as you haven't before - image via Pixabay

Good books should illuminate aspects you’ve not considered before. Image via Pixabay.

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Flash fiction for impact. Image via Pixabay

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Flash – for light or dark fiction! Image via Pixabay

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

The art of the perfect flash
Is not to jot down in a dash
But to select what you say
Using just those words that may
Help you create the biggest splash!

Allison Symes – 12th December 2017

Flash fiction to a tee? I think so! What to decide is what the splash is going to be – humour, horror or what have you. The important thing? To have fun with what you write!

CROSSING GENRES AND SECOND BOOK SYNDROME

Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

My Chandler’s Ford Today post this week is Part 1 (out of 2) of my interview with paranormal historical fiction writer, Jennifer C Wilson. She creates a world where the heroes are ghosts and Richard III gets a MUCH better write up than he ever had from Shakespeare!

Jennifer also shares her three top tips for writers, what her trigger for writing was, and names her own favourite historical fiction writers. More next Friday when, amongst other topics, she shares the joys and woes of crossing genres and how being able to go to Richard III’s funeral influenced her writing. Just how many historical fiction writers get to go to the funeral of their leading star is debatable but there can’t be that many!

Many thanks, Jennifer, for your time and for sharing some great insights. Looking forward to sharing Part 2 next week but in the meantime here’s the link to Part 1.

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

There will be more Christmassy flash fiction tales from me on Cafelit over the next couple of weeks. (I hope these will eventually make it into my second book). Do head over and check out their Advent Calendar. There are wonderful stories on here. Don’t miss them!

I think flash especially comes into its own at this time of year when people are under pressure, time-wise, to get things done. It is the ultimate in the quick read after all!

Facebook – Posts from earlier this week

What do I find most interesting and useful in author interviews?

Questions that encourage the writer to expand on what they do and why rather than simply allow them to give a Yes/No answer. By giving fuller answers, you have much more of an insight as to what makes that particular author tick. I’ve found reading author interviews to be a good source of encouragement. They also make me think about what I write and why.

Am sharing a photo which has gone up on Paula Readman’s wonderful For Writers Only Who Want to Write without Fear of Rejection. Many thanks, Paula, and also to my better half for getting the Christmas tree up today without which this photo would not have been possible (as they say)…

My book on our Christmas Tree as part of Paula Readman's wonderful For Writers Only Who Want to Write without Fear of Rejection Facebook page. Image by Allison Symes

My book on our Christmas Tree as part of Paula Readman’s wonderful For Writers Only Who Want to Write without Fear of Rejection Facebook page. Image by Allison Symes

Facebook – from earlier this week – From Light to Dark and Back Again

My better half and I celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary earlier this week. (We can’t believe where the time has gone either). Looking back at wedding photos etc raises smiles and causes some sadness as we recall those we’ve lost. So much has changed in that 30 years – from computers to cars to new forms of storytelling being invented (flash fiction of course!).

It led me to think about what kind of time scale do your characters work on? Can they see the long-term bigger picture or are they of the kind who resolutely sticks to the past and treats all new things with suspicion? Some great stories could come from those questions. Happy writing!

It was good fun reading three stories out from the book on Saturday (at the Bridge House/Cafelit/Chapeltown Books/Red Telephone celebration event). As well as good experience for me, audience reaction to each story let me know the emotional impact of each story was precisely what I meant it to be! It is a bit difficult to gauge this accurately when you’re on your own! (I use reading work out loud, when alone, to help me get my dialogue right and this is also very useful).

Love the booklet Inspiring Ideas that has come with this month’s Writing Magazine. Shall be finding this useful! It has picture prompts, tips from famous authors and sets exercises too. Will be staying by my laptop for some considerable time I think. What is nice these days I nearly always turn to the Members’ News and letter pages first in the magazine and see if I spot anyone I know from writing events in there. Glad to say I often do!

I read three stories at Saturday’s Bridge House event. I chose Serving Up a Treat (poetic justice), Making the Grade (humorous magical story) and Pressing the Flesh (horror. This one is also in the Best of Cafelit 6 as it started life on Cafelit). I think of this as a kind of “pick and mix” of my stories (and those old enough to remember Woolworths will know where that term comes from!).

Image: Thanks to Dawn Kentish Knox for taking the photo of my reading and to Paula Readman for sending me the image of Dawn, Paula and I together showing off where our stories are! Three very happy authors!

Fairytales with Bite – Second Book Syndrome

It’s funny how things often don’t work out quite the way you think they will.  My initial plan this year had been to have the follow-up to From Light to Dark and Back Again with my publisher, Chapeltown Books, by, say, the end of October.  Hmm…  I am glad to report I am now editing my second book and, if I can, I hope to have it off to Chapeltown by the year end/very early into the New Year.

I can confirm there’s a nice mixture of fairytales with bite in the second volume and, as ever, some of my characters even I wouldn’t want to meet in any kind of alley, yet alone a dark one.  However, they are huge fun to write for!!

Why the hold up?  Well, I’m glad to say it has been for the best of reasons.  I’ve been involved in Book Fairs, signings, extravaganzas and library events ever since From Light to Dark and Back Again came out and these have eaten into my time more than I thought.  I know I haven’t quite got the balance between writing new material and marketing the current book right but also know I will get there eventually.  It is a great comfort to know other writers have this same struggle to get this balance right!

I thought I’d leave this post with an extract from the second book, which has also recently appeared on Cafelit.

Can I also recommend checking out Cafelit’s Advent Calendar of stories?  There is a lovely mix of styles and lengths of story here.  Am glad to say some more of my Christmassy ones will appear in the next couple of weeks.

Oh and if you want to know what to give the writer in your life?  If they have a book out, reviews on Amazon and Goodreads are always welcome!

Allison Symes’s books on Goodreads

This World and Others – Crossing Genres

My Chandler’s Ford Today post this week is Part 1 (out of 2) of my interview with paranormal historical fiction writer, Jennifer C Wilson. She creates a world where the heroes are ghosts and Richard III gets a MUCH better write up than he ever had from Shakespeare!  In her Kindred Spirits series (two so far:  Tower of London and Royal Mile), she combines historical fiction with ghost stories.

Now I’m sure you’ll have come across the maxim you are not supposed to cross genres but some of my favourite books do exactly that.  Jennifer’s series does so brilliantly.  The most famous example of cross genre work is J.K. Rowling with her Harry Potter series – boarding school stories meet magical stories.

When done well, crossing genres can create a complete new sub-section of fiction and bring new life to the two genres crossed.  Christopher Booker’s The Seven Basic Plots feels there are only so many plots and so stories are going to come into at least one of the categories he lists in this book.  (A long read but a very interesting one and well worth checking out).

In my own case I cross flash fiction with fantasy, sometimes with crime, sometimes with horror and have a wonderful time doing so!  And, of course, there are those books which are hard to categorise but you just know you love them when you read them.

So mix away but choose your ingredients carefully!  I think it essential to have a thorough love and knowledge of the two genres you’re crossing (so you could work well in either if you ever had to pick one because a publisher or agent wants you to do so.  I also think there will be a stronger element of one genre than the other in the overall mix which is where your natural preferences will take you and this could well be a good guide if you have to pick a category for your work to go in).  It will also show through in your writing that you know both genres well and, as a result, your story will be so much more convincing to the reader.).

Goodreads Author Programme – Blog – Crossing Genres

There is a theme emerging tonight!

This topic has come up as my Chandler’s Ford Today post this week is Part 1 of a two-part interview with Jennifer C Wilson, author of the Kindred Spirits series. She crosses historical fiction with ghost stories.

I cross flash fiction with fantasy, sometimes crime, sometimes horror, sometimes character studies. It occurred to me that, despite all the advice I’ve come across in my time to NOT cross genres, some of my favourites stories and books have done exactly that!

When well done, crossing genres breathes new life into both of the genres the new story uses. So mix away! I do think you need to love and know well both genres you’re writing for but as Jennifer says in her interview, the most important thing is getting the story down and worrying about what genre it fits into much, much later on.

Is it me or is creating new sub-divisions of fiction a healthy thing? I see it as creative, inventive and good for storytelling as a whole.

 

STORIES ON CAFELIT

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Glad to say I’ll be having some further stories appear on Cafelit’s Advent Calendar later this month. More details (and links) as they appear. Why not dip into the Advent Calendar to get a taster of what Cafelit authors produce? There is a nice range of styles and lengths of stories and, best of all, it’s free! Perfect for a quick read with a cup of tea I think.  (The link takes you to all of my stories on Cafelit as at the date of writing this post  on 4th December.  I would urge you to check out the other authors on here too.  Such a wonderful eclectic mix of stories).

Am currently working on an index for my next flash fiction collection. I can’t stress enough the importance of a good index for any short story collection! You’ve got to make it easy for readers to find your stories. I do know when I’ve come across ones (thankfully not many) that are either inaccurate or their cross-referencing is not what you might expect. (So let’s hear it for all hardworking indexers out there!).

Image Credit: Thanks again to Dawn Kentish Knox for taking the pic of my reading from From Light to Dark and Back Again at the recent Bridge House event. Came home feeling invigorated and inspired, which is what all good writing events should do.

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A great selection of books. Image by Allison Symes

Lovely having an appreciative audience, pic taken by Dawn Kentish Knox

I read three stories from From Light to Dark and Back Again. Many thanks to Dawn Kentish Knox for the picture!

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From Light to Dark and Back Again. Image by Allison Symes

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Love the booklet Inspiring Ideas that has come with this month’s Writing Magazine. Shall be finding this useful! It has picture prompts, tips from famous authors and sets exercises too. Will be staying by my laptop for some considerable time I think. What is nice these days I nearly always turn to the Members’ News and letter pages first in the magazine and see if I spot anyone I know from writing events in there. Glad to say I often do!

I read three stories at Saturday’s Bridge House event. I chose Serving Up a Treat (poetic justice), Making the Grade (humorous magical story) and Pressing the Flesh (horror. This one is also in the Best of Cafelit 6 as it started life on Cafelit). I think of this as a kind of “pick and mix” of my stories (and those old enough to remember Woolworths will know where that term comes from!).

Image: Thanks to Dawn Kentish Knox for taking the photo of my reading and to Paula Readman for sending me the image of Dawn, Paula and I together showing off where our stories are! Three very happy authors!

Goodreads Author Programme – Blog – Getting Out and About as a Writer

I had the great joy of being at the Bridge House Publishing/Cafelit/Chapeltown Books and Red Telephone celebration event in London on 2nd December.

I’m published by Chapeltown for From Light to Dark and Back Again of course but am also on Cafelit (a lot of my flash fiction starts life there!) and have been in Baubles and Alternative Renditions, the Bridge House anthologies.

It was fabulous getting to meet fellow authors once again. I read some pieces from From Light to Dark and Back Again, which was great. (It is ALWAYS nice to know you have a sympathetic audience!).

I thoroughly enjoyed the other stories that were read out and thought the standard very high. I was at an event in Winchester the week before where I read some of my flash fiction out and one lovely comment was a lady who really enjoyed being read to as an adult.

There is something special about it because you are either reading to your children (which is also a fabulous thing to do and hopefully encourages a lifelong love for books in them) or you are reading your work out for editing purposes. To be read to for sheer entertainment is bliss and audiobooks are wonderful for this.

So read and be read to! Enjoy!

And I am already looking forward to next year’s Bridge House event!

P.S.   I forgot to add that it is wonderful getting together with other authors and encouraging one another in our current writing projects.

From Light to Dark and Back Again

Allison Symes’s books on Goodreads

 

BRIDGE HOUSE/CHAPELTOWN/CAFELIT/RED TELEPHONE EVENT

Had a wonderful time at the Bridge House/Chapeltown/Cafelit/Red Telephone celebration in London on 2nd December.  It was fabulous to meet up with fellow writers again and to share news of what we were up to and to share some of our stories with each other too.

Facebook – General AND From Light to Dark and Back Again

It has been a busy but lovely weekend, especially with the Bridge House event yesterday. One great thing about talking with fellow writers about what you are working on is it DOES encourage you to get on and do it! Am now editing what I hope will be my second flash fiction collection (finally!).

I talk a little about this on my Goodreads blog as well tonight, but I really enjoyed hearing the stories being read out yesterday. There is something special about being read to, especially when many of us only get to do the reading, whether it is to children, or to help us with our own editing. The standard of stories was very high and I enjoyed reading from From Light to Dark and Back Again too.

Already looking forward to next year’s event! (Many thanks to Dawn Kentish Knox for taking the picture of me reading yesterday. All other pictures were taken by me and show some of the many readers/writers at yesterday’s event. Check us out at Cafelit, Bridge House, Chapeltown and Red Telephone Books. You know it makes sense… last minute stocking fillers anyone?).

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Had a wonderful time in London at the Bridge House/Cafelit/Chapeltown/Red Telephone celebration event. (It was for the launch of the Best of Cafelit 6 and Bridge House’s Glit-er-ary anthologies. I have a story in Cafelit 6 this year). Fabulous to catch up with friends, especially Gill James, Dawn Kentish Knox and Paula Readman.

Loved the story readings (one image below is of Gill James reading from her Chapeltown collection, January Stones) and I read three of mine from From Light to Dark and Back Again. I will be writing more about this for a later Chandler’s Ford Today post but for those of you at the event who claimed to be “just readers” (and you know who you are!)… ahem! No such thing as “just”. Writers love readers! Indeed without being readers ourselves, we wouldn’t have become writers.

The image below is of Dawn Kentish Knox with The Great War and Extraordinary, Paula Readman with Glit-er-ary and The Best of Cafelit 6, and yours truly with From Light to Dark and Back Again. Thanks, Paula, for sending the fab photo. All other images by yours truly.

Oh, and I got to fulfil a vague ambition by accident on the way into town. I should’ve taken the Edgware tube to get to Chalk Farm, but managed to get the High Barnet one which stops at Camden Town and goes down another route. So I got off at another stop and caught the right tube which was behind the one I was on. I am a huge fan of Radio 4’s I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue and I really did have to take a picture of this particular tube station image! Fellow fans of the show will understand why I’m sure. Mornington Crescent! Nice to see the Christmas decorations up at Waterloo too. The chandelier was in the Ladies! They obviously believe in posh loos for pubs in Camden!

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The chandelier in the Ladies at the Princess of Wales pub! Image by Allison Symes

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