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

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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!

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CROSSING GENRES AND SECOND BOOK SYNDROME

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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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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!

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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.

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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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Balancing Time and Reading Work Out Loud

Lots happening.  Have included links to Cafelit to two of my new stories now up on their website.  Hope you like them!

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My Chandler’s Ford Today post this week looks back at last weekend’s 10th-anniversary celebrations at the Winchester Discovery Centre. Regional authors took part (including me!) but there were other events happening such as the Winchester Fusion Choir singing from the top floor of the Centre. They were wonderful.

More details in the post but I should add that, despite working in Winchester for years, I had never been in the Centre before. It is a lovely building, I loved the clock decoration in the children’s section with quotes from children’s literature coming from it, and, as well as getting to talk to people and sell some books, I even managed to take in an art exhibition while there!

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My Chandler’s Ford Today post this week takes a look back at last weekend’s celebrations at Winchester Discovery Centre, as they commemorated their 10th anniversary. A number of regional authors took part, including yours truly. More tomorrow. Nice to get to go to the Centre. I’ve passed it countless times but had not visited before. Very nice building.

Also had my first swim at the new Fleming Park. Sorry everyone locally WILL call it that, not Places Leisure, Eastleigh. What kind of name is that? (Clue: unimaginative!). Must say though the pool and changing facilities are lovely though I’ll be glad when the car park is sorted out properly. Hopefully, this will happen soon.

Off to London (not to visit the Queen) but to go the Bridge House/Cafelit/Chapeltown Books/Red Telephone celebration.

And talking of Cafelit, another new story from me is now up on their website. (There’ll be another in December).

Yesterday’s story and today’s are two examples of where I’ve played with the flash format a bit by telling my tales in rhyme. This came about as a result of a question put at the flash fiction talk at Swanwick this year as to whether flash fiction counted as prose or poetry, given the person who asked had come across poems that could count as flash. They tell a story after all and briefly after all… Anyway, thought I’d give it a go. See what you think!

Image below is part of my book stand at the Winchester Discovery Centre but given it shows several of the anthologies my stories are in for Cafelit and Bridge House, I thought it would be appropriate to use it here!

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Hope everyone coming to the Bridge House/Cafelit/Chapeltown/Red Telephone event in London tomorrow have good journeys and a great time at the said event! Look forward to seeing you there.

I’m hoping to read from From Light to Dark and Back Again and I’ve selected a couple of pieces I hope will “hit the spot”. Glad to say am now on to editing my second book. Do second books always take longer than first ones or is that just me?!

Good to have more work up again on Cafelit too. Hope to do better on that front in the New Year. This year has been a strange one in that I’ve not submitted nearly as much work as in previous ones, but have had the book published, been involved in marketing it (and still am obviously), and taken part in events etc. All good fun. Think I’ve learned a lot from it all. I’ll know for sure if I have if, next year, I manage to balance writing time with marketing time better!

Fairytales with Bite – Reading Out Loud

One thing that came out of the Winchester Discovery Centre celebratory event last weekend was a lovely comment from a lady who really enjoyed my reading some of my flash fiction from From Light to Dark and Back Again to her.  She said how lovely it was to be read to.

It occurred to me after this to wonder how often are we read to?  Regular listeners of audiobooks do have this joy but isn’t there something nice about being read to specifically (and live by an author too)?  So this is another very good reason to support a writing event.  You can hear what the author has written, pick up the tone directly and that will be a good indication for whether you are going to like the style or not.

I find reading work out loud a really useful part of the editing process.  I tend to save doing this until I’m almost ready to submit the work.  If all has gone well with the editing to date, I will be able to read the work smoothly (and almost as if someone else had written it).  If not, I will stumble over the words and it’s back for another rewrite!  But it is best I pick that up rather than a potential publisher!

This World and Others – Balancing Time

To quote the old phrase, “It’s a good trick if you can do it!”.

I don’t know about you but I find it difficult to get the right balance between marketing current work and getting on with the next book.  I’m sure this is something I will get better at with succeeding books to From Light to Dark and Back Again.

I’ve loved taking part in the various events and signings I’ve been involved with this year (including last weekend’s celebrations at the Winchester Discovery Centre), and obviously hope to do more in 2018, but I would’ve liked to have finished the draft of my second book a lot earlier than I have done.  (I’m now editing that second book.  I love editing.  The work is going to get better!).

I am hoping to increase the number of hours writing I do as from early next year, which will help, but the one consolation I think is knowing every writer has this dilemma.  We all find our own ways of getting the balance right so I’ll get there.  Goodness knows when but I will get there!  (Famous last words I know…)

In the meantime, I’m off to another event in London tomorrow – the Bridge House/Cafelit/Chapeltown/Red Telephone celebratory “do”, it will be fantastic to meet up with my fellow authors again and the writing?  I might get some done thanks to the marvels of the smartphone on the train.  I am getting better at using “dead” time.  When I had to take my car in for a service recently, I was almost annoyed they finished quicker than I expected as I really wanted to finish the story I was working on!!  I balanced time there well enough!

The literary clock in the children's section

The children’s clock decoration in Winchester’s Discovery Centre

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Celebrations at Winchester Discovery Centre today for its tenth anniversary. Okay no fireworks but there WERE balloons and cake! Image via Pixabay

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Fantasy may look at other worlds but often reflects on our own. Time is different too. Image via Pixabay.

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Books can make you lose time but what a way to lose it! Image via Pixabay

Social Media Tree. Image via Pixabay.

Social Media Tree. Image via Pixabay.

Association of Christian Writers – More than Writers blog spot

My monthly blog spot this time looks at the joys in the Christian life and how others’ joys can strengthen you and yours can do the same for them.

ONLINE – HERE AND THERE

It’s been a busy but productive week so far.  The good news is it is only Wednesday too!

Facebook – General – Guest Post on Wild Words Website

A reminder from yesterday of my post on Bridget Holding’s Wild Words website.  Lovely to guest blog.  Many thanks, Bridget.  I met Bridget at Swanwick Writers’ Summer School earlier this year and loved her talk on finding your voice.  It took me a long time to find mine.  As for writing rituals which I discuss in this post, it took me a while to work out what best suited me.  I’m a night owl type of writer.  What type are you?  Comments welcome!  (And, before you ask, I don’t hoot!).

Likewise, do send comments in on writing rituals you’ve found useful.  A chief one of mine is to always write first.  If I have any editing to do, I get on with that later into my writing session.  I like to get the creative work down first.  (Incidentally editing can be creative too but not in the same way).

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Facebook – General – Publication News

Busy day online. Firstly my monthly post for More than Writers, the Association of Christian Writers blog, is up on site. I talk about some of the joys in the Christian life.

Secondly, I have a new flash piece up on Cafelit, with more to follow soon. I’ve experimented with the form a little bit in that tonight’s story is a flash tale told in rhyme. Fun do to (and a challenge!). See http://cafelitcreativecafe.blogspot.co.uk/

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

It is a joy to write fiction and non-fiction, though the first has always been what has “called” to me the most. I’ve always had a love of stories and always will though it is great that now a lot of fiction techniques are being used to make non-fiction work more accessible to people. Long gone are the days of long lists of dates and figures… now we look at how people would have lived back in the days of whenever. A much better approach.

I would hope flash fiction would also be a way to convince the die-hard non-fiction only reader (and I’ve known a couple in my time) that you can enjoy storytelling. And that it can be kept to the point like any good non-fiction article.

I love flash for its brevity, for the way it makes me write tightly, and for those moments that you know make a story but are too short for a standard length competition.  Flash fiction gives those stories an outlet.

 

To come:-

Talking of non-fiction, my Chandler’s Ford Today post for this week will be a look back at the Winchester Discovery Event last weekend.

Another flash fiction piece by me should be up on Cafelit tomorrow too.

 

MIXING UP YOUR READING AND EVENT NEWS

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Do you mix up your reading or do you find you are reading in one genre in a go?

I read across a reasonable number of genres but find I’m one of those readers who have to have their “fix” of crime fiction for a while before then going on to have a “fix” of fantasy stories before coming back to crime, moving on to historical fiction and so on.

I zig-zag all over the place at times, though I love all that I read (which I think is the most important thing. With never as much time to read as I would like, I want to make sure all I do read is going to pass the will-it-entertain-or-inform-me-or-do-both test before I get too far into the book. I’m glad to say I’ve only abandoned one or two books in my time and that several years ago. I realise now life is too short to waste on a book that simply isn’t gripping me when there are thousands out there that will!).

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I think I can say it’s been a good week so far. Am delighted to report a post I wrote on my writing rituals is now up on Bridget Holding’s Wild Words site. I met Bridget at Swanwick this year and loved her talk on finding your voice.

A Writing Ritual: Allison Symes

Image used for Wild Words and my post on A Writing Ritual.  Many thanks to Bridget Holding for hosting me.

Also glad to say I will be having new stories on Cafelit very soon (indeed two are due on there this week). Will keep you posted. Lovely to have work on there again. It is a fabulous place to showcase your writing.

Also looking forward the Bridge House/Cafelit/Chapeltown Books celebratory event on Saturday.

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Some of the books I’ve appeared in and FLTDBA of course. Image by Allison Symes

Love the cover for this. Image supplied by Bridge House Publishing.

My last Bridge House story is in here. Naturally I hope there will be many more to come! Image supplied by Bridge House Publishing.

Very pleased to have appeared in these lovely books.

 

Hope there will be more anthologies in the New Year.

 

 

Busily finishing off the follow-up to From Light to Dark and Back Again.

 

 

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It took me a while to get the title for From Light to Dark and Back Again right. Funnily enough, I usually find titles for the stories themselves not too difficult to come up with but coming up with something for the collection was more problematic. It was when I decided to focus on the theme and tone of the stories that the title came to me, as it does reflect the mood of the tales well.

With the title sorted out, I could then focus on an appropriate cover image to send to Chapeltown. The wonderful ripple picture comes from the magnificent Pixabay website and Chapeltown then put their fabulous frame around it. It’s a cover I’m very proud to be associated with as people DO judge the book by the cover!

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again Part 2

Some new flash fiction pieces from me will be appearing on Cafelit soon. Will keep you posted!

Am also glad to share the link to Bridget Holding’s Wild Words website where she has hosted a post from me about my writing rituals.

It is a joy to write fiction and non-fiction, though the first has always been what has “called” to me the most. I’ve always had a love of stories and always will though it is great that now a lot of fiction techniques are being used to make non-fiction work more accessible to people. Long gone are the days of long lists of dates and figures… now we look at how people would have lived back in the days of whenever. A much better approach.

I would hope flash fiction would also be a way to convince the die-hard non-fiction only reader (and I’ve known a couple in my time) that you can enjoy storytelling. And that it can be kept to the point like any good non-fiction article.

FAVOURITE BOOKS AND READING OUT LOUD

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What is your favourite book and why? What I read depends on my mood when I’m reading so I can’t possibly have one overall favourite. I’ve chosen below one from each major character when an author has several in their canon. A good way of squeezing more books in!

I’ve also deliberately chosen books from deceased authors. I love a wide range of contemporary writers too but thought for this post I’d take a look back at some of the books that have developed my love of reading (and ad a result my love for writing too).

Historical Fiction – The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey

Agatha Christie Novel – Murder on the Orient Express (Poirot)/The Secret Adversary (Tommy and Tuppence)/Nemesis (Miss Marple).

Terry Pratchett Discworld Series – Men At Arms (Vimes Series)/ Raising Steam (Moist von Lipvig)/Maskerade (Witches series)/Reaper Man (Death series)/Interesting Times (Rincewind/Wizards series).

P.G. Wodehouse – The Code of the Woosters (Jeeves and Wooster)/Heavy Weather (Blandings)/Uncle Fred in the Springtime (Uncle Fred)/Cocktail Time (for its send-up of what banning a book achieves – as relevant now as when PGW wrote it!).

“Letters” books – PGW’s “A Life in Letters” is a fantastic read. Also love the Evelyn Waugh letters. Kenneth Williams wrote some great letters too.

“Diaries” books – Kenneth Williams’ one is very sad in places but is also brutally honest. Such a shame he underestimated his skills in comedy and I don’t think truly realised how loved he was, especially for his Just a Minute appearances.

Playwright – Shakespeare, naturally.

Charles Dickens Novel – A Christmas Carol

Jane Austen Novel – Pride and Prejudice

Poem/Hymn – the words to Abide With Me (and I also love If by Rudyard Kipling).

Children’s Series – The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

So what would you choose?

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

The best way of showing people what flash fiction is? Read some tales to them! Great way also to improve public reading skills. Lovely thing with reading flash fiction out loud is, by its nature, it doesn’t take long and so people are more inclined to listen! It is my fervent hope that those who won’t read or feel they don’t have time to will discover flash fiction as it is a form that gives bite-sized reads for those in a hurry! (From my point of view as a writer, it keeps people reading, I hope).

My own love of reading (and as a result of that for writing too) came directly from being read to as a child. I then went on to read my own choice of books (such freedom to choose what I wanted! I love my late mother’s collection but show me a decent bookshop and I can spend hours in there if allowed to do so. Note to self: Don’t spend too long at Foyles at Waterloo or you will miss the train home from the Bridge House/Cafelit/Chapeltown event next weekend!).

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Appreciating Books

Facebook – General

Was at the Winchester Discovery Centre for their 10th-anniversary celebrations as part of a group of local writers. Chatted with people, sold some books, other people took postcards of the book, and I hopefully raised the profile of flash fiction. After all, what is the most common question asked of any flash fiction writer? Basically, what IS flash fiction?!

Funnily enough, I wasn’t asked that today and I’ve found the best answer is to read an example or two out to people. Loveliest comment of the day was from one person who bought From Light to Dark and Back Again as she absolutely loved being read to! Maybe adults need reading to more often!

Will write more about this for Chandler’s Ford Today for this coming week’s post but thanks to Richard Hardie for setting things up. I hope all who went to the Centre today had a great time.

Support your library? Definitely! (And a big thanks must go to the library staff who provided teas, coffees and cake throughout the day!)

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Heather Chamberlain and Woofbot enjoy talking with Richard Hardie, YA author, at Winchester Discovery Centre.  Image by Allison Symes

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Have spent most of today promoting From Light to Dark and Back Again, and flash fiction in general, at Winchester Discovery Centre today.

A group of local writers were there joining in with the celebrations for the Centre’s 10th-anniversary. Didn’t get to do the author talk (though at least I’ve got one prepared now!) but did do readings of my stories, which I love doing.

Off to the Bridge House/Cafelit/Chapeltown celebration next weekend. I’ll be reading stories again then too and am looking forward to catching up with fellow BH authors again.

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Children’s author, Finian Black, at his book stand at Winchester.  Image by Allison Symes

 

Goodreads Author Programme Blog – Appreciating Books

I was at the Winchester Discovery Centre on 25th November as one member of a group of local writers invited to take part in the Centre’s 10th-anniversary celebrations. I used to work in Winchester and passed the Centre countless times but had never been in there before. It is a stunning building and the library is beautifully laid out.

I’ll be writing more about today’s event for my Chandler’s Ford Today post this week but I wanted to say now how good it was there were so many people in the Centre and that books are appreciated. Sometimes I’ve had the impression books can be sidelined. There ARE other forms of entertainment after all but to my mind you can’t beat curling up with a good book, whether that is in book, audio or electronic format.

It was good to talk to people about what flash fiction is and, better still, read a couple of examples out from From Light to Dark and Back Again. Loveliest comment of the day was from someone who relished my reading to her as an adult! Perhaps we “grown ups” need to be read to much more often!

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Changing the World and Reading Fairytales

All images are from Pixabay unless stated otherwise.

Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

My latest Chandler’s Ford Today post is the start of an occasional series where I look at pivotal moments in history. I start with one where the result changed everything – Bosworth 1485. And the relevance for Hampshire? Well given our county symbol is the Tudor Rose, quite a bit!

It is strange that Bosworth is not commemorated more than it is given its impact on the whole country.

Hopefully, see some of you at the Winchester Discovery Centre 10th-anniversary celebrations tomorrow.

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Looking forward to reading some of my flash fiction at tomorrow’s Winchester Discovery Centre event (10 am to 4 pm. Officially, I’m “on” at 11.45 for a short presentation but I will be there for the day with a stand).

If you would like to know more about flash fiction and/or writing for the small press and online magazines, do come over and have a chat.

There will be a wide range of authors taking part throughout the day and other activities so the whole day should be a lot of fun with something to interest most people!

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Fairytales With Bite – Reading Fairytales

I’ll be reading some of my fairytales with bite at Winchester Discovery Centre tomorrow (Saturday 25th November 2017) as part of their 10th anniversary celebrations.  A group of local writers, including me, will be giving short presentations and readings throughout the day as well as manning our own book stands there.  It should be good fun.  If you are in the area and would like to know more about flash fiction and/or writing for the small press and online magazines, do come over and chat.

Reading fairytales also means of course reading between the lines.  One of the things I love about fairytales is they usually have a fairly strong message behind them.  With Hansel and Gretel, I pick up the obvious anti-child cruelty theme but also the importance of sticking together and supporting one another.  Had Hansel and Gretel not done this for each other, they wouldn’t have survived in the tale, which is the whole point.

The nice thing about fairytales also is the story shows you the message without preaching it.  It is by far a more effective way of getting the message across and something we should all aspire to with our own writing. I know I find it far too easy to slip back into “telling” though flash fiction writing, with its tight word count,does help me against that (there’s no room for it!).

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This World and Others – Changing the World

My latest Chandler’s Ford Today post looks at how the Battle of Bosworth in 1485 changed everything and I especially look at its impact for Hampshire, my home county. It was very much a personal battle too between Richard III and Henry Tudor, later Henry VII.  One man’s actions, that of Lord Stanley who betrayed Richard, literally did change everything so this made me wonder what about our characters and the changes they could bring about.

What individuals amongst them could change everything in the worlds we’ve created and how?  What would the impact be of them doing this?  What if they decided not to change anything?  Is the status quo maintainable (and should it be)?  Is the world you’ve created crying out for change and needs the right character to do it?  Even if your “right” character is willing to carry out the changes needed, how do they reach that decision and what obstacles are in their way?  Do they ever doubt themselves and their “mission”?

There are some cracking stories to be written answering those questions. Of course, for the last couple, I was thinking of The Lord of the Rings, but while I know I won’t ever write anything on that scale (few of us could!), we can still answer those questions for our own stories and bring more drama and tension into them, which should hopefully keep our readers wanting more from us!

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