16th June 2017
My latest Chandler's Ford Today post is Part 1 of an interview with Anne Wan, children's author (Adventures of the Snow Globe: Vanishing Voices.). Part 2 follows next Friday and will include Anne's love and loathing of editing. I seriously doubt if there would be any writer who would disagree! I look forward to sharing that post next week but in the meantime, this section gives a very good idea of the hard work needed to write and publish a book.
11th June 2017
Sorry about the brief break but this has been due to a family bereavement. Glad to report I'm getting back into my regular writing slots. My latest Chandler's Ford Today post is all about one-liners and how I use them to generate story ideas. See http://chandlersfordtoday.co.uk/one-liners-by-allison-symes for more.
19th May 2017
Tonight's post for Chandler's Ford Today is one I've wanted to write up for a while. I look at the importance of children's fiction for all writers.
See the post at http://chandlersfordtoday.co.uk/why-childrens-fiction-matters-by-allison-symes/
12th May 2017
My latest Chandler's Ford Today post should resonate with all writers with books "out there", as I focus on the art of the book review. I share my thoughts on why honest reviews are vital and really do help writers, and also share some wonderfully acerbic comments from the very truthful Mark Twain! (These are highly entertaining but you would not want to be on the receiving end!).
6th May 2017
Day later than usual this week! My new Chandler's Ford Today post reviews A Comedy Trio by The Chameleon Theatre Group. Three short plays, a mixture of farce and a a countryhouse murder spoof were great fun to watch and it is the first review I've written where I've reviewed three things in one evening!
28th April 2017
My Chandler's Ford Today post for this week explores great themes. When I write stories, I take two approaches to theme. Sometimes I deliberately write to one. Other times I focus on the character and follow what they do/say and the consequences and then the theme emerges from that. I look at themes in stories and music here and, without having planned this, a lot of my musical tastes are included in this post. Everyone from Dave Edmunds to Maria Callas, in fact! Great stories in their music. Hope you enjoy.
21st April 2017
Firstly, my latest Chandler's Ford Today post is based on a writing exercise I was set at last year's Swanwick Summer Writers' School. Advice to My 20 Year Old Self sets out what I would tell my younger self if I could - the first thing was to lighten up! What would YOU tell your younger self? Comments are very welcome in the CFT comments box.
Secondly, I am pleased to say there is now a Facebook page for From Light to Dark and Back Again. Naturally I will post interview, launch news etc etc here. I will also put up posts that related to the book in some way. For example, tonight, I have posted a piece about reviews and a separate post on what part of a story I like writing most. The book trailer is also available to see here.
14th April 2017 - Good Friday
My Chandler's Ford Today post tonight is Cyberlaunch Lessons and takes a look back at what I learned from the recent cyberlaunch of From Light to Dark and Back Again. I really hope this will be useful to other writers thinking of having their own launches. Also glad to report the Kindle version of my book is currently available for 99p!
7th April 2017
My latest Chandler's Ford Today post is on a perfect topic for a fiction writer to blog about - a Storytelling Festival! The Festival is from 10th to 22nd April and includes creative writing workshops, a special screen showing of Roald Dahl's Fantastic Mr Fox and the Story Shuffle app, which I wrote about a while ago, now being available for the public to try at 10 local libraries. More details in the post. Hope everyone who goes has a lot of fun with this.
31st March 2017
My main Chandler's Ford Today post this week is part 2 of my interview with Martin Kyrle. His book, Jottings from the Trans-Siberian Railway, is a fascinating insight into a part of the world most of us only know by name. It is also very funny. I can also guarantee you will think twice before complaining about the cost of toilet paper when you read Kyrle's Law on the Public Bog!
30th March 2017
Two bonus posts for this week. One is my Association of Christian Writers' piece for the month called Telling It How It Is. I share my love of the Psalms for their honesty and passion. If ever there was a book where writes poured out their souls, this is it!
The other post is a bonus Chandler's Ford Today one and is called What is a Cyber Launch? This is for those new to the idea and came out of a discussion I had at a new local writing group.
I will share my main post - the rest of the interview with Martin Kyrle - tomorrow, hopefully.
24th March 2017
My latest Chandler's Ford Today post is part 1 of my interview with Martin Kyrle, former Liberal Democrat councillor and now published author. His book Jottings from the Trans-Siberian Railway describes a fantastic journey taken by him with friend and photographer, Michael Roberts, across Russia, Mongolia and into China.
One thing I love about non-fiction writing is how it is increasingly using storytelling techniques to entertain (as well as give you the facts and figures of whatever subject you are reading about). Martin's book is a very good example of this and would appeal to lovers of travel books, railways and funny stories!
Martin and I discuss the book and I give a summary of the contents. The photos in the book are stunning. The book is written as a travel diary and is very easy to read. It sheds light on a part of the world which is still wilderness (especially Mongolia).
Martin also shares why he wrote the book. The second part of the interview next week will include a summary of Kyrle's Laws (including the wonderfully named Law of the Public Bog!) and what Martin would have done differently had he known then what he knows now.
17th March 2017
Two items of news tonight.
Firstly, my Chandler's Ford Today post this week reviews the first in a planned series of graphic novels called Blood and Valour.
This retells the stories of Southampton's legendary hero, Sir Bevis of Hampton. Henry V was known to read the stories on tapestries (the first comic book, anyone?!).
Secondly, I am delighted to announce BOOK NEWS in that the cyber launch of From Light to Dark and Back Again will be held on Saturday 1st April 2017 between 10 am and 6 pm (UK time - but all welcome).
I will share more news as and when I have it.
10th March 2017
Apologies - I forgot to post news of last week's Chandler's Ford Today post. I looked at the joy of radio for that and shared some of my favourite radio comedies.
Tonight's post looks at the joy of interviews. I share some of the questions put to me by fellow scribe, Jacci Gooding, and what I liked about those questions. Hope you find it of interest. Jacci's questions really made me think about why I do certain things as a writer and look back at how far I've come so far on my writing journey.
Sorry for the links as shown above but there appears to be an issue with linking to websites on here tonight. It wants to light up and link the whole paragraph! This seems to be a work around until I can get to the bottom of this.
24th February 2017
My Chandler's Ford Today post this week is about the publication of From Light to Dark and Back Again and what this means for me now as a writer. I have had various "firsts" on the way to this very special first.
My route to publication has been a series of steps, some small, some very significant like this one, and others where I learned a lot and, as a result, helped me make progress in writing overall. I am thinking of my regular blog posts for CFT in particular as that has given me a love for writing non-fiction and very good practice in writing to a deadline!
I share my thoughts on how vital it is to accept that you are in for the long haul when it comes to getting work out there, what I love about writers' generosity with one another when it comes to sharing news of books out and so on, and I confirm that persistence really does pay off.
17th February 2017
Tonight's post for Chandler's Ford Today is called Vital History and sums up exactly why I think it is.
11th February 2017 - BOOK NEWS
Delighted to say From Light to Dark and Back Again is now available on Kindle. There will be a cyber launch at some point and I will post more about that later. In the meantime, the Amazon link is https://www.amazon.co.uk/Light-Dark-Back-Again-ebook/dp/B06VT92429/
10th February 2017
My Chandler's Ford Today post this week shares news of a Jane Austen Festival in Southampton in June, which is being co-ordinated by the Sarah Siddons Fan Club. I must admit I didn't know much about Sarah until I wrote this post but just as Jane was an early pioneer in women's novel writing, Sarah was one of the first women to make her name as an actress. There are various events being held to mark the 200th anniversary of Jane's tragically early death (I always wonder just how much else would she have written had she a normal lifespan).
3rd February 2017
Many thanks to those who have sent me congratulations on my FB page over my book. Much appreciated.
My Chandler's Ford Today post is a review of a locallly produced pantomime - Robin Hood. The Chameleon Theatre Company put on a wonderful show. I share not just what I liked about that, but also what I like about the classic tale of Robin Hood, which is one of my favourites.
1st February 2017 - BOOK NEWS
Am delighted to share the book cover image for my flash fiction debut collection, From Light to Dark and Back Again. Absolutely love this. Chapeltown Books are bringing out a series of single author collections and I'm honoured to be the first. More news as and when I have it. I hope to share extracts at a later date.
20th and 27th January 2017 and Book News
I forgot to put a Chandler's Ford Today link up for last Friday, 20th January, but will do it now. My post then (which is not time dependent in any way) is all about Classic Books and what makes a book qualify for that status. I also list my Top 10.
Book News - I chose the book cover for my flash fiction collection, From Light to Dark and Back Again (Chapeltown Books), this week. Both options were wonderful (I had sent in ideas earlier but it came down to two images being viable for this). In the end, the choice was a clear cut one and I am looking forward to sharing the image at a later date.
27th January 2017
My Chandler's Ford Today post is a kind of follow-on from last week. Classic Books focused on fiction. Tonight's post Fiction -v- Non-Fiction? No Contest! celebrates non-fiction. I talk about why it is vital for all fiction writers to read non-fiction widely and share some of the books that have inspired themes for stories. I include the Bible (I found out in the last year or so thanks to an article I read that a UK soap scripwritier was inspired here - I suspect by the story of Samson and Delilah!), historical, science, and reference books. Besides which reading non-fiction is great for feeding the mind anyway and ideas can really spark from that.
13th January 2017
I seem to be on a history theme at the moment with my Chandler's Ford Today posts. Last week I looked at local steam trains. This week I'm going further back in time to the medieval legend of Sir Bevis of Hampton, Southampton's "mascot" figure. Tonight's post Introducing Guy Stauber - Marvel at Sir Bevis Comic looks at Blood and Valour's latest news. Blood and Valour (part of the Road to Agincourt Project) is the graphic novel/comic book (due out in the spring) about Sir Bevis and is written by Matt Beames and illustrated by Marcus Pullen. Guy Stauber, who has worked for Marvel, Disney and DC Comics, is producing cover work and other images for this. The post shares some of Guy's stunning work for this project. Anyone who is fan of adventure tales (as well as graphic novels of course) should serious consider checking out Blood and Valour when it is out in the spring. And I'm not aware of any other character whose stories have been on tapestries and then gone on to be produced as a graphic novel! (Can't even think of anything for St. George!).
6th January 2017 - HAPPY NEW YEAR!
I talk about the Watercress Line in this week's Chandler's Ford Today post. This wonderful steam railway runs between Alresford and Alton via some lovely Hampshire countryside and trains run for most of the year. Going on this train has been a family tradition for years, though one of the signs at Alresford makes me laugh. It is so politically incorrect! See the post and spot the picture. Let's just say I wouldn't buy the product concerned!
30th December 2016
My last Chandler's Ford Today post for the year is a lighthearted one (I think it's needed given this year has been a rotten one in many ways although ironically it was also my best writing year). Seasonal Limericks and Flash Fiction I hope brings at least a smile or two.
For my fellow Association of Christian Writers (UK) members, my blog post, Making an Impression, went up on the More than Writers blog yesterday. I look at "flash moments" and the impact these can have and also look at the role of the innkeeper in the Nativity. His was, if you like, a brief walk on part, but so crucial so maybe we shouldn't worry about our "legacy" and focus on having a positive impact, as much as humanly possible anyway.
Last but not least, may I wish you a Happy New Year.
23rd December 2016
What I Like (and Dislike) about Christmas is my Chandler's Ford Today post this week (and my annual reflection on Christmas). Hope you enjoy. Hope you also have as wonderful a Christmas as possible.
16th December 2016
This week's Chandler's Ford Today post is an interview with local YA author, Richard Hardie (Leap of Faith and Trouble With Swords), who shares the latest publication news. The lovely thing with this post is not only do I help share news of the work of a local author, I get to promote the independent bookshop supporting him (the fantastic P&G Wells of Winchester).
9th December 2016
Well, what a week! On Saturday, I went to the Bridge House Publishing/Cafelit joint book launch in London to celebrate the launch of Baubles (Bridge House's annual anthology for this year) and The Best of Cafelit 5. My story, Helping Out, is in Baubles and Telling the Time, a flash fiction piece, is in Cafelit 5. Great to meet up with Bridge House and Cafelit people. Had a wonderful time sharing marketing tips, catching up with what other writers are doing and so on. Bridge House have set up a Baubles Facebook page and on their blog spot are sharing for the 24 days from the beginning of December to Christmas Eve snippets of the stories from the 24 writers in this anthology. I was on day 7.
On Monday, my story The Delivery appeared on Alfie Dog. The link takes you to my author page here and I now have 5 stories on Alfie Dog. The Delivery shares the tale of a former favoured servant of the Dark Lord who has fallen out with the boss and is now facing the consequences.
And tonight's Chandler's Ford Today post, What's Your Favourite Film Theme? My Top Ten, not only tells you at once what the post is about (!), but is a follow up to my classical music piece a few weeks ago. The latter has been one of my favourite CFT posts this year and it generated wonderful comments (and shared YouTube clips). I very hope tonight's post does the same - contributions are very welcome!
2nd December 2016
My Chandler's Ford Today post tonight is The Writer's Journey and shares my publishing and writing news since I went to the Swanwick Writers' Summer School back in August. This period has been the most productive I've know with my writing to date and I very much hope to build on it for 2017.
25th November 2016
Tonight's Chandler's Ford Today post shares news of a local author book launch. Jottings from the Trans-Siberian Railway by Martin Kyrle and Michael Roberts is being launched at The Brooks, Winchester on Saturday 3rd December. The book is for armchair travellers and railway fans.
I'm only sorry I can't go but it is for the best of reasons. I'll be at the Bridge House Publishing/Cafelit joint book launch for Baubles and The Best of Cafelit 5 respectively. I've got stories in both and it will be lovely to catch up with everyone again.
In other news, I've just sent back the proof for my flash fiction collection. I'm very happy with how it is looking!
18th November 2016
It has been a wonderful writing week. Firstly, I judged the Greensleeves short story competition, which is run annually by the Southampton Writers' Circle. This came about as a result of meeting one of the SWC stalwarts at the Swanwick Writers' Summer School this year. We got chatting and exchanging writing advice and so on and, basically, this led to my doing this. The stories were all very good and worthy of publication after some final editing work. I was made so welcome by the SWC and the critiques I prepared went down well. They are planning to invite me back! I am not the world's most natural "networker" so to have something positive like this come from networking I did is special for me.
Secondly, I am delighted to announce my short story, The Delivery, will be on Alfie Dog Limited early in December. Will post more details and the link nearer to publication date.
And last but by no means least, my Chandler's Ford Today post this week shares news of events going on at my local library. There will be a Books of 2016 discussion event and ebook surgeries. I hope all who go to these are both entertained and find the events useful.
11th November 2016
I review Arthur Miller's play, All My Sons, as recently staged by the Chameleon Theatre Group as this week's Chandler's Ford Today post. Both the play and performances were excellent. It felt as if I was watching a real live event and the writing is so powerful. I also share in the post a little about the history of the play and its links with McCarthyism. And given it is set in 1947 with the impact of the war still red raw on families who lost loved ones, this play also shows the devastating effects of grief (and the inability to come to terms with it). So glad I went to see this.
On another note, Bridge House Publishing have now set up a Facebook page for their annual anthology, Baubles, which will have my story, Helping Out, in it. This is also the first book where I've been involved with a book trailer and I think it looks great. I share the links to both the Facebook page and the video below.
4th November 2016
My Top 10 Classical Music Greats is my Chandler's Ford Today post and one I've been looking forward to writing for a while. Hope you enjoy the post, the musical clips and I would welcome comments as to what would be in your Top 10. My difficulty with a post like this was limiting my selection to just 10 musical works! And I didn't even include Beethoven, Mozart or Bach! So who did I include? Have a look at the post and see what you think.
28th October 2016
I had the great joy of meeting up with and interviewing Barbara Large, who founded the Winchester Writers' Festival as it is now known. Part 2 of that interview is up on site and, as ever, Barbara kindly shares a wealth of advice for writers of all backgrounds.
23rd October 2016
Just to say I've posted an update to my recent Chandler's Ford Today post about the Story Shuffle Project. This is an app where local school children will be wriitng stories about a local legend, Sir Bevis of Hampton, having their work digitised and put into this app. They then are given a special code to unlock these stories but have to activate this at their local library. Once unlocked, they can not only access their own story but many, many others as well. From a writer's viewpoint, what is there not to like about this? Creative writing and encouraging children to use their local library! Hope everyone who takes part in this project has a lot of fun with this.
21st October 2016
I am delighted to share the news that Part 1 of my interview with Barbara Large, MBE (founder of Winchester Writers' Festival as it is now known) is on site at Chandler's Ford Today. Part 2 follows next week and in both segments Barbara, as ever, generously shares wonderful writing advice.
On a personal note, I am pleased to say I have returned the edits on my flash fiction collection to my publisher, Chapeltown Books. And I am working my way through a wonderful series of interview questions put to me by friend and fellow writer, Jacci Gooding. Don't know yet when that will appear but will post when I do know.
But back on topic, I first met Barbara many years ago at Winchester and her support and encouragement for writers from all backgrounds and genres is amazing. It was a real pleasure and delight to meet up with her again and I hope something of that shows through the interviews too.
14th October 2016
Tonight's Chandler's Ford Today post uniquely combines three of my favourite topics - creative writing, history, and encouraging the use of local libraries. The Story Shuffle Project, which is linked to The Berry Theatre in Hedge End and Eastleigh Borough Council, is encouraging local school children to write their own versions of the Sir Bevis of Hampton legend. Sir Bevis is Southampton's legendary hero. Think James Bond on tapestries! Once the stories are written, they will be put into a digital app, which the children can access at their local libraries using a special code. I would have loved this when I was that age. I always loved codes and historical stories. I hope all taking part have a lot of fun with this project.
7th October 2016
The Best of Cafelit 5 is now out in print and electronically. My flash fiction piece, Telling the Time, is in there and there is a great mix of very short stories like mine and longer works in there. I know I'm biased but I highly recommend it. Publisher is Chapeltown Books who will be publishing my flash fiction collection. More news on that when I have it.
For this week's Chandler's Ford Today post, I discuss good writing conferences and share some thoughts as to what I have learned from Winchester Writers' Festival, which I've been attending for many years, and Swanwick Summer Writers' School. The latter I went to for the first time this year and loved it. The latter was the first residential conference I'd attended since the Isle of Wight ones I used to go to many years ago. These were run by Felicity Fair Thompson, whom I've interviewed for CFT in the past.
30th September 2016
Tonight's Chandler's Ford Today post is another in my Away Day Series and is about Bath. Jane Austen lived here for a while but my focus is on the Roman Baths, always worth a visit.
23rd September 2016
I start a new occasional series with Chandler's Ford Today this evening and have called it Impossible Interviews. My "guest" tonight is Richard III. Maligned or a monster? What do you think? (I hope to interview other historical figures across a wide range of backgrounds in due course).
16th September 2016
I don't usually write technical pieces but tonight's Chandler's Ford Today post shares why I use Scrivener writing software. I hope this post will be of especial use to writers considering using this program, but there are links to websites of some of my favourite authors, whose writing technology was the quill and the typewriter!
10th September 2016
The second half of my Chandler's Ford Today post is up tonight and is called A Peek Into My Writing World. This post shares why I have artificial roses on my writing desk, tells you what I have on said desk that I call "Old Faithful" because it keeps going no matter what (just like me!) and has a quick look around at my working area. I may as well confess now I definitely don't have a clear desk policy... but I strongly suspect most of you don't have either!
9th September 2016
My current Chandler's Ford Today post is actually the first part of a two parter focusing on flash fiction. In tonight's post I explore what flash fiction is and share an example of one of my flash stories. Tomorrow's post will talk about my book publication news and reveal why I have roses on my writing desk (amongst other things!).
3rd September 2016
My current Chandler's Ford Today post is a reminder about the wonderful Barbara Large's creative writing classes in the area. Barbara is the founder of what is now known as the Winchester Writers' Festival and she has helped and encourraged so many writers over the years. A normal length (for me) post should appear next Friday, all being well, and I hope to give more details nearer the time. My first post for the Association of Christiaan Writers website (More than Writers) did appear (on 29th August) and was called Appreciating the Small Successes. I will be blogging for them monthly from now on, with my posts to appear on the 29th of each month.
EXTRA SPECIAL NEWS
I am delighted to be able to say my first flash fiction collection is going to be published by an independent publisher, who has published my short stories before in anthologies. They also plan to take my short story collection (stories of a standard length for competitions) and for that to come out in 2017. I will also be blogging for More than Writers, the Association of Christian Writers' blog, with my first piece due to appear sometime next week. So it is all go here but in a very good way!
26th August 2016
Part 2 of my Medieval Weekend review is now up on Chandler's Ford Today. I look at the roles of the fletcher, the taverner and the basketmaker amongst others. The weekend was huge fun and attracted over 2,000 visitors, which I thought was good for an entirely new event.
21st August 2016
I've set up a Word Press blog tonight called Allison Symes: Collected Works and I intend to use this to (a) share my writing news and (b) link my Facebook posts, website items and Chandler's Ford Today articles. The idea is to share excerpts with links back to the original site(s) so people can easily get back to those items that particularly caught their eye. Hope you enjoy!
19th August 2016
My mini-series on articles relating to the Road to Agincourt Project continues with tonight's Chandler's Ford Today post. Would You Like a Medieval Life? is part 1 of a two-parter with the rest appearing next Friday. It is a review of a recently held Medieval Weekend and looks at a typical village and the people who would've lived there.
13th August 2016
My Chandler's Ford Today post for this week, which actually appeared yesterday, is Part 1 of my review of a recent Medieval Weekend held at Manor Farm, Bursledon. This weekend was put on by the Road to Agincourt Project. This post looks at the Great Ships Trail, a newly launched walk to the River Hamble where the wreck of The Grace Dieu, Henry V's ship, can be spotted. On a personal note, I returned from the renowned Swanwick Summer School for writers yesterday and have spent the time since then catching up with "real life". Now it's back to the usual writing routine but I return having learned loads and, best of all, having made new writing friends (most of whom are on social media).
5th August 2016
I review Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet for tonight's Chandler's Ford Today post. This production was put on by the Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company and streamed nationwide thanks to National Theatre Live. Great performances and the message of the play about love being stronger than hatred and death is as relevant as ever.
29th July 2016
My new Chandler's Ford Today post is Barbara Large: New Writing Classes in Chandler's Ford. Barbara founded the hugely successful Winchester Writing Conference (as it was known then) which is now known as the Winchester Writiers' Festival. I me her there many years ago and she has been a huge encouragement to hundreds of writers like me over the years. I hope the new classes do well.
22nd July 2016
The Poetic Life: Sharing the Muse is the second half of my Chandler's Ford Today interview with successful local poet, Sandra Gordon. Sandra shares some wonderful hints and tips for aspiring poets (though much of the advice applies equally well to prose fiction writers). We discuss the importance of reading, editing and the usefulness of writing festivals/conferences amongst other topics. Hope you enjoy it.
18th July 2016
Am delighted to be able to anounce that my short story, Helping Out, will be in the Bridge House Publishing anthology for this year. This will be called Baubles. And I've been accepted to write a guest blog post, I hope to share more details later. I was told today my very brief story Telling the Time, will be appearing in The Best of Cafelit 5. Am thrilled to have two acceptances like this. See http://cafelit.co.uk/best%20of%20cafelit%202015.html
15th July 2016
Tonight's Chandler's Ford Today post is Part 1 of my interview with local poet, Sandra Gordon. She has recently performed her poetry at the New Forest Folk Festival and is about to have some of her work published in the prestigious magazine, The North. As part of my series looking at the writing life, I thought it would be good to look at writing from the viewpoint of a poet. In tonight's post, Sandra shares her thoughts about the role of poetry and names some of her own favourite poets. Part 2 will follow next week where Sandra will share useful hints and tips for aspiring poets.
10th July 2016
Am delighted at the British Wimbledon successes this weekend. Well done to Andy Murray and all who did so well here. On a personal note, I'm very pleased to say my short story, Helping Out, will be in the Bridge House Publishing anthology, Baubles, later this year. More news when I know more but a great way to end a really nice weekend!
8th July 2016
Want to Become a Heritage Guide? is my latest Chandler's Ford Today post and ties in with my recent Agincourt posts. Have been very pleased the Road to Agincourt website have linked to these posts with great presentation and credits. Nice to have a bit of external publicity for Chandler's Ford Today and for me! The Road to Agincourt project is a two year programme to commemorate the Battle (the 600th anniversary was in 2015) and Hampshire's local links. There will be a medieval weekend at the end of this month which will launch a new walk taking people down to the River Hamble, where The Grace Dieu, one of Henry V's ships, was found relatively recently. Should be interesting to see the archaeologists at work and a re-enactment of how life was then. Am so grateful I live in current times though! For one thing I celebrated a landmark birthday earlier this year and I doubt I would have reached it 600 odd years ago. Life expectancy was not great. So yes I love history, I love reading it, writing about it but I am not convinced I would want to live it!
1st July 2016
My new Chandler's Ford Today post is another in my Away Day series (from my local station) and looks at the lovely city of Salisbury. Great place to visit. I particularly like Salisbury Cathedral and always feel a real sense of my country's history when I look at the Magna Carta given the cathedral houses one of the few original copies. Definitely worth a visit.
26th June 2016
Just back from a short, refreshing break. Two posts appeared on Chandler's Ford Today while I was away and were the two parts of my interview with writing friend, Jacci Gooding, who I met at the Winchester Writers' Festival a couple of years back. Jacci will be launching her short story collection, A Collection of Unsettling Short Stories, in October and the first part of the interview called Adventures in Self Publishing looks at her taking the self publishing route with this book. There is also some good advice for anyone also thinking of taking the self publishing route. The second part of the interview looks at Jacci's life as a writer. Many thanks also to Jacci for a good mention on her website.
10th June 2016
My Away Days from Chandlers' Ford Station: York is part one of a mini series of away days from my local station. At York I visited the National Railway Museum, which is a fascinating place to go to as it contains everything from a working model of Stephenson's Rocket to the Harry Potter platform sign and so much in between. I love trains, history and stories and the Museum has so much of all of these.
3rd June 2016
My latest Chandler's Ford Today interview is with Kate Day, CEO of Chocolate Muffin Publishing, who enable young and old alike to write and illustrate their own stories and publish them. I was particularly interested in their work with dementia patients and love the idea of creative writing being taken to people who might not have otherwise experienced the joy of being creative like this. So my article takes a look behind the scenes. My post is at http://chandlersfordtoday.co.uk/chocolate-muffin-publishing-and-kate-day/
27th May 2016
I go back in time again for my latest Chandler's Ford Today post. In the King's Footsteps on the Great Ship Trail shares news of a Free Medieval Weekend coming up in Hampshire at the end of July. A woodland trail taking walkers down to the River Hamble where Henry V's ship The Grace Dieu was found relatively recently will be launched at this event. There will be historical re-enactments, medieval cooking and so on. I take a brief look at what life would have been like then as well.
20th May 2016
My latest post on Chandler's Ford Today continues my mini-series on scams. How to Spot a Real Writing Competition shares advice and tips on what to look for in genuine contests and warns about what to avoid. A lot of the advice also applies to non-writing competitions too. If in doubt, check it out!
13th May 2016
My post on Chandler's Ford Today for tonight is Fun Day - Fryern Funtasia 2016, which reviews one of the local shows. Despite the dodgy weather on the Bank Holiday Monday (in the UK), the show was good fun. It was a great chance to catch up with old friends, watch the entertainment and discover news of a concert that will be raising funds for St. Anne's Hospital in Tanzania where they are looking to provide new toilet blocks and flushing toilets. I very much hope the concert is a huge success. I find it hard to imagine life without decent sanitation and hope for a day when this lack in so many countries around the world becomes history.
6th May 2016
Glad to say tonight's Chandler's Ford Today post is on a much lighter theme than recent posts of mine. I review The Pocket Dream (written by Elly Brewer and Sandi Toksvig) which tells the story of a cast struggling to put on Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. Local group, The Chameleon Theatre Group, did a wonderful job in staging this and they and the play were a joy to watch. I also share something of the history of the Bard's original. Great night out and the post was a joy to write too.
29th April 2016
World Book Night 2016 and the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare is my latest Chandler's Ford Today post. Admittedly not the snappiest title I've come up with but it is a very accurate description! The post also looks at a local WBN celebration at a wonderful independent book shop at Lee-on-Solent with the Authors Reach group, who include Richard Hardie of the Temporal Detective Agency fame. My post on CFT last week was a joint one on email scams. It is nice to write about something which is more more positive!
25th April 2016
Scam Alerts is the first Chandler's Ford Today post I've written jointly with someone else. Many thanks to Richard Hardie, Authors Reach stalwart, YA author and fellow CFT blogger, for sharing an excellent piece about email scams. I've added some more good general advice and found an absolute gem of a You Tube clip where a phone scammer definitely got the wrong number! Oh and you should hear who this scammer claimed to be too!
22nd April 2016
Phone Scams is my latest Chandler's Ford Today post. It is one of those sad but necessary posts and I do hope the advice in it stops others falling victim to the greedy thieves who feel is is all right to con people.
15th April 2016
My new Chandler's Ford Today post is called Watching the Detectives and shares my thoughts about J.B. Priestley's play, An Inspector Calls. I also name some of my favourite fictional detectives and there are some clips of old theme tunes, which I hope bring back some memories.
8th April 2016
It may be a little late (just over 600 years late in fact!) but my current Chandler's Ford Today post is called History: News From Agincourt. News from the Road to Agincourt Project, which was set up to commemorate the battle of Agincourt over two years, includes details of a new woodland walk, a medieval festival and an interactive map which is on fabric and can be worn as a scarf. I like the sound of the latter. For Doctor Who fans, can you imagine what size of map could be put on to the Fourth Doctor's neckwear?!
1st April 2016
The second half of my 50 Things I like About Chandler's Ford is up on the website now. I include a very good local chip shop (almost typed that as ship chop - now there's a Spoonerism for you!) and the nice avenues of oak trees in the area.
25th March 2016
My latest post on Chandler's Ford Today is called 50 Things I like about the Chandler's Ford area (Part 1). Part 2 follows next week. I wanted to write a post tying in with my 50th birthday earlier this week and set myself the challenge to find 50 things to like! (Would be easier I think if I lived in a big city!). Having said that, ideas did flow and I am pleased to celebrate in this post our fantastic local library and the wide range of wildlife in our area (especially bird life).
18th March 2016
My latest Chandler's Ford Today post is called Writing as Therapy: Introducing Chocolate Muffin Publishing. It discusses creative writing as therapy, shares links with groups working in this field and introduces a company that enables people with learning difficulties, dementia and children of all ages and abilities to write their own stories, illustrate them and produce them as books. The five weeks course ends with a book signing event so people can celebrate their achievement. I love the whole idea behind this and have long believed in the value of the arts, believing them to be truly good for the soul.
12th March 2016
Really enjoyed Getting Your Book Into Print, the Writers' Day in the lovely city of Bath, run by the Association of Christian Writers. The last one of their days I went to was about setting up and running a website! This seems an apt place to mention that! I learned a lot today and met many lovely people and it was nice to visit Bath again. One of my favourite authors, Jane Austen, also lived there for a while.
11th March 2016
Thanks to local venue, Thornden Hall, putting on National Theatre Live productions regularly, I'm getting to see more plays! My latest Chandler's Ford Today post is called As You Like It...And I Did! and reviews the play and shares some of the history behind it.
4th March 2016
One of the great joys of blogging for Chandler's Ford Today is getting to discover stories I hadn't known. My current post is called Producing a Legend: Sir Bevis of Hampton. Sir Bevis was a hugely popular legend in medieval times and Henry V was known to read Sir Bevis's stories depicted in tapestries! Emerging towns in this era often chose "mascots" and Southampton chose Sir Bevis. A new play and comic book is being produced on Sir Bevis specifically to target younger people into discovering more about him and the period of history in which he was most popular. My post reveals more about this and discusses how comic books can be a great way of getting reluctant readers into literature in general. Hope you like the post.
27th February 2016
Unusually I have a second Chandler's Ford Today post to share this week. Sadly it came about as a result of a friend of mine falling foul of a card scam and I was asked to write a warning piece. The post shares other useful information about some of the cons that go on. The post is called Beware of Thieves Using the "Distraction Technique" in Chandler's Ford but the information is borderless (as sadly is the crime).
26th/27th February 2016
National Theatre Live in Chandler's Ford and Eastleigh Areas is my latest Chandler's Ford Today post. While I highlight some local shows, I also discuss the joys of National Theatre Live, which I think is a wonderful idea. Hope you like the post.
23rd February 2016
One of my darker short stories, Pressing the Flesh, is now up on Cafelit. Hopefully more of my stories, light and dark in tone, will appear on Cafelit during the year.
19th February 2016
I explore the revamp of a much loved local swimming pool, the benefits of swimming (for mind and body) and how swimming helps my writing in my latest Chandler's Ford Today post called Revamping Fleming Park. Fancy Swimming Alongside a Local Fiction Writer? The nice thing is I am in illustrous company too. Swimming (and writing the post) is huge fun!
12th February 2016
My new post on Chandler's Ford Today is How Have Your Reading Habits changed? The post discusses the Kindle, traditional publishing, celebrates reading no matter what the genre or whether it is fiction or non-fiction. The post also shares some thoughts on how to encourage relucant readers.
5th February 2016
Winter - Ugliness and Beauty is my new Chandler's Ford Today post and looks at the bad and good points of what probably is most people's most disliked season. Good points include book reading, hot chocolate consumption and the beauty of the trees, even with their leaves off. Bad points include the weather and pot holes. But beauty really is in the eyes of the beholder and this post shares some of my thoughts about what I like about nature at this time of year.
4th February 2016
Pleased to say first acceptance of the year is now under my belt. Scriggler.com now have on site my short story, Three Wishes. Hope you enjoy! Now to crack on with the next story... Have got a nice list of markets and competitions to work my way through.
29th January 2016
I talk about writing platforms, the history of writing and why writing can be dangerous for your health in my latest Chandler's Ford Today post, Writing, Blogging, Social Media...What's Your Favourite Form of Writing?
22nd January 2016
The Magic of Words, my latest Chandler's Ford Today post, is my reflection on David Bowie and Alan Rickman. Now there were people who could work magic with words...
16th January 2016
My latest post for Chandler's Ford Today was a real joy to write and is called The Joy of Libraries. It looks at what libraries can still do for us plus takes a brief tour of the history of libraries. Hampshire County Council has not long had a Draft Strategy Review seeking people's views over the library service and I hope many in my area took part in this.
9th January 2016
My new post, Shakespeare Inspirations: Hamlet at Thornden Hall, went up on Chandler's Ford Today yesterday. It is a review of Hamlet from a writing perspective and I really enjoyed writing it. Good to be back in the swing of things again.
24th December 2015
My new post, Christmas Stories, Limericks and Traditions, is now up on Chandler's Ford Today. I've written some 100 words stories for this and some limericks for the season. Have a wonderful Christmas.
21st December 2015
The good news is rolling in thick and fast at the moment and I'm relishing every moment of it! My 100 words short story, Telling the Time, is now up on the Cafelit site as part of their Advent Calendar. I love the pictures of the dancing mice that come with it but see the story for the relevance! http://cafelit.co.uk/adventdaytwentyandtwenty-onedoubledoor2015.html
20th December 2015
2015 has been a good writing year for me. With Stories in Green Ink compiled by Anna Trowbridge which has two of my stories in it, I have now been published in three print anthologies this year. (The others being Limerick Nation and The Best of Cafelit 4). I've given the link to the paperback version of Stories in Green Ink though it is out on Kindle too.
18th December 2015
I look back at my writing year on tonight's post for Chandler's Ford Today. I also discuss the joys of the small press, what makes up writing success and share how things went at the recent Bridge House/Cafelit joint book launch in London.
11th December 2015
Part 2 of my interview with Richard Hardie is now up on Chandler's Ford Today. Richard also shares useful writing tips in this post. His Temporal Detective Agency series for YA (Leap of Faith and Trouble with Swords) has been accepted in libraries and Richard has carried out a number of book signings, including on board an Isle of Wight ferry, in recent months. He is now part of an authors' co-operative (for marketing and publicity) called Authors Reach. I think co-operatives like this will become increasingly common especially with the rise in self publishing.
4th December 2015
My new post, Further Adventures of a Fantasy Author, is now up Chandler's Ford Today. It's good to be back posting again. This is part 1 of an interview I conducted with Richard Hardie whose Temporal Detective Agency series for YA is taking off. One of my earliest posts for CFT was an interview with him, which led on to our tribute to the late, great and much missed Terry Pratchett. This post is an update on Richard's progress as a writer and Part 2, due to appear next Friday, shares his tips for fellow writers. Facebook appears to have crashed tonight so will be sharing on Twitter only for the moment.
29th November 2015
Pleased to say my short story, Out of Time, is now up on Scriggler.com. Hope you like it. Due to losing my mother (not unexpectedly), I have had a short break from Chandler's Ford Today but hope to have my next post up later this week. It will be a catch up interview on a local author whose YA adults are taking off well. More details I hope later in the week.
7th November 2015
My theme of history continues with my current Chandler's Ford Today post, Hampshire Historical Connections. This is a general overview of some of the great historical places in Southern Hampshire and I hope to look in depth at the stories behind some of them in future posts. I think this is one reason I love history - it really is full of stories.
30th October 2015
Two of my great loves are history and wildlife and my latest Chandler's Ford Today post is about both. Hidden Hampshire: The Monarch's Way is about the route King Charles II took out of the country after his defeat at the Battle of Worcester and the wonderful scenery and wildlife that can be found around this great section of the walk. The whole way is 615 miles so naturally I can only report on a short section of it (!) but the part that is nearest to me is some of the nicest countryside in the area.
24th October 2015
My new post, From Writer to Dancer: Felicity Fair Thompson, is now up on the Chandler's Ford Today website. This concludes a series of articles on Felicity. My previous ones had looked at her life as a small publisher and her historical novel, The Kid On Slapton Beach. The new post covers Felicity's favourite moments as a writer and shares useful hints and advice for other writers.
15th October 2015
David Suchet is fantastic as Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest. See my new post on the Chandler's Ford Today website - The Importance of Being Earnest at Thornden Hall. I should add Oscar Wilde's original definitely did not have "at Thornden Hall" added to it! Having said that, Thornden Hall is a local venue which stages all manner of shows and productions and deserves to be better known as an entertainment value. I'm off to see Hamlet there later (lead being played by Benedict Cumberbatch). My post reviews Wilde's play, gives a brief biography of him and reviews the venue! No doubt I shall be earnest at the Hall later. Can you imagine a greater contrast in mood in two plays than that shown by Earnest and Hamlet! I can't!
9th October 2015
My new post, High Jinks at the Hiltingbury Extravaganza, is now up on the Chandler's Ford Today website. Despite the show running for some time, this year was the first time I attended. It is also the first time I've been able to claim legitimately I was researching when I was gossiping with some of the people on the stands there!
8th October 2015
Had a wonderful evening out at Thornden Hall watching The Importance of Being Earnest. Great wit and humour. My next post for Chandler's Ford Today is due to appear tomorrow evening and is a review of the local Extravaganza, our local show. This was huge fun and I hope it generates more support for Thornden Hall (and for the local Scouts who are busy fundraising so they can rebuild their HQ).
24th September 2015
My new post, Hiltingbury Extravaganza: Talking Maths, is now up on the Chandler's Ford Today website and I'd like to thank Andrew Kuttner for his time and fascinating insights into the running of a highly successful and well known local Maths support group. The Extravaganza, which took place last weekend, has been a long running feature in Chandler's Ford and I found it a great contrast to have the usual icecream vans, hot dog stalls, rides and slides and then educational stands such as Andrew's all at this show. (I didn't dare take my border collie to the dog show at the Extravaganza. She'd have wanted to round up the other dogs and would probably have walked off, appropriately, with the Best Asbo rosette!).
18th September 2015
My latest post, Station Walks Review, is now up on the Chandler's Ford Today website and should appeal to train fans and walkers (I adore train travel and am looking forward to another trip to Cardiff and the Doctor Who Experience soon). Glad to report have made more connections on Linkedin and Twitter recently. Also have had further good response to my Scriggler poem. I do hope to submit more work to them a little later on in the year but right now it's time to resume work on getting an extract of my novel, The Trouble with Mother, ready for submission to a publisher who has an open window slot right now.
9th September 2015
Am delighted to say Not the Way to Go was tweeted about by Scriggler and others have retweeted that so many thanks, everybody. Am happy (massive understatement!) about this given this has the potential to be my biggest audience for anything I've written so far. What with the acceptance of The Magic Flute for the The Best of Cafelit 4, I think I can commit to saying that this has been a good writing week for me!
6th September 2015
Thrilled that my short story, The Magic Flute, will form part of Cafelit's annual anthology to be called The Best of Cafelit 4. This will be out in December and launched in London, along with Snowflakes, the latest Bridge House Publishing anthology. I hope to go to the launch especially since I really enjoyed the Bridge House Authors' Reunion last year. Yesterday I submitted my poem, Not the Way To Go (my take on the Wizard of Oz story) to Scriggler, an Amercian based online writing magazine. It is the first time I've submitted work internationally. Have also had some good comments in on my latest Chandler's Ford Today post, Always Annoyed in August (Are Exams Easier?). It has been a productive weekend!
4th September 2015
Just to say my new post on Chandler's Ford Today is called Always Annoyed in August (Are Exams Easier?). Yes, I do have a soft spot for alliteration! This piece is a defence of hardworking students everywhere and to give some ideas as to where to go for help, especially in my local area, for those who need help with their grades. Incidentally the general advice will hold true everywhere given there will be groups of the type I talk about elsewhere. I should add that having seen the GCSE English Language and Literature papers in the last couple of years, I think standards have improved. I liked the books on the Literature paper (and finally got to read for myself Of Mice and Men so that went down well with me). (Oh and I know that Oliver Twist and Beowulf was studied at the latter end of junior school in our area though not at the same time! I liked that given I never read Dickens until I was an adult).
30th August 2015
It has been a busy couple of days for my posts on Chandler's Ford Today. I've managed three posts in three days! The first was part 1 of the final section of my interview with Gill James of Bridge House Publishing, who gave me my first publishing credit via the anthology, Alternative Renditions. This post focussed on Gill's life as a creative writing lecturer and Gill also shared very useful know how and writing tips. This post went up on Friday 28th August. The second post, up on Saturday 29th August, focussed on writer networking. When I let Gill know this post was going live, it almost led to one of my best typos as the piece so nearly became Tip Tops rather than Top Tips! The third post, live tonight on Sunday 30th August, shares details of local author Richard Hardie's book signing and talk sessions coming up at our lovely library in Chandler's Ford, which was recently one of a few to be awarded Grade 2 Listed Building status. Further details of that are in the link to another article of mine listing very good reasons to love books.
14th August 2015
The last in my summer series for Chandler's Ford Today, My Top Ten Terry Pratchett Characters, is now up on site. It was huge fun to write. Hope you enjoy it and the links. I'll be back to fortnightly blogging (so the next one should be on 28th August).
7th August 2015
My Top Ten Reasons to Love Books is now up on the Chandler's Ford Today website. I link to a Radio 4 Extra programme about Allen Lane, Penguin and paperback founder, which was presented by Michael Morpurgo of War Horse fame. I also discuss book fomats a little and manage to plug our library which has just beeen awarded Grade 2 Listed Building status.
2nd August 2015
Pleased Janet Williams, Chandler's Ford Today's lovely editor, has credited Mike Sedgwick and I with co-editing a recent local history series by Mike Napier on the site. This is a 8 piece series called Growing Up in Chandler's Ford. From my viewpoint, I loved this as I had sneak previews of great posts and got to use the editing skills I've developed on my work on something outside of that. All good experience anyway!
31st July 2015
My new post, My Favourite Fairytales, is now on the Chandler's Ford Today site. This was huge fun to write. I also share my short story, Job Satisfaction, which first appeared on Shortbread Short Stories some time ago. Hope you enjoy.
30th July 2015
Have spent time tonight putting in a link from my Facebook Author page to my other website, www.fairytaleswithbite.com, but there does seem to only be room to link to one site, which is why I've not added this one. Have added social media links into the buttons at the top of the page. Should have done that before My next post, My Favourite Fairytales, will be on Chandler's Ford Today shortly. (Due to go live at midnight!). Will share link tomorrow hopefully.
26th July 2015
My new post, My Desert Island Books, is now up on Chandler's Ford Today. Have shared some of my favourite stories and, as you can imagine, this post was a sheer joy to write. Big problem with it? Keeping the word count down given I could go on at some length on this theme!
23rd July 2015
A short post called The Writer's Process is up on the Chandler's Ford Today website tonight. Details of this writer's talk (due to be held at Fareham on Saturday, 25th July) were passed to me by Felicity Fair Thompson and I'm only sorry I can't go as it sounds really interesting.
My next scheduled post is up on the site tomorrow and is called My Desert Island Books. I'll put up a link once it goes live. I share my love of stories and name some of my favourites. This post was a real labour of love to write!
19th July 2015
Just returned from a wonderful NE Scotland break. Fantastic scenery and very good weather. Glad to be back to writing (though I did work on my short story collection whilst away). Will have a new article on Chandler's Ford Today later this week.
10th July 2015
Many thanks to all who've posted nice comments on my St. George's Day Parade article on Chandlers Ford Today. The post looks at the legend of St. George and the local legend that is Lyn Darbyshire!
9th July 2015
My next post on Chandlers Ford Today is on site from tomorrow and is called Memories of Chandler's Ford St. George's Day Parade: Lyn Darbyshire. The post looks at the history of St. George and I talk to Lyn Darbyshire, our former (Scouting) District Commissioner who organized our local parades for many years. One thing I love writing for CFT is researching various things that come up as a result of what I'm writing about. I feel like I'm learning lots!
6th July 2015
My new post will be on Chandlers Ford Today on Friday. It looks at the legend of St. George, some of the history and a behind the scenes at the local St. George's Day Parade. I suspect St. George must hold some kind of record though. I was surprised at just how many countries, cities and causes for which he is the patron saint!
26th June 2015
My new article, Inspired by Slapton Beach: Felicity Fair Thompson, is now up on Chandlers Ford Today. I really loved writing this as it combines two of my favourite things - history and talking to other writers. Slapton Beach reveals a slice of World War 2 history that is still not widely known and the piece looks into this. Felicity then discusses with me the joys and pitfalls of writing historical fiction. Hope you enjoy the item.
20th June 2015
Thoroughly enjoyed my second day at the Winchester Writers' Festival. Topics today included whether to self publish or not, fantasy writing, short stories and how to get the best out of Twitter. (The latter had a wonderfully funny segment on 10 Things Not to Tweet. I've received most of them!). Have prepared a list of things to do as a result of the Festival and am pleased to say have carried out first one tonight. My Twitter profile now has a proper picture of yours truly on it so the egg symbol accompanying my tweets has finally gone. I've also updated my biography. Think it looks better. Had not realised the egg symbol on tweets can be treated like spam so appreciate the info from Emily Benet. Already looking forward to next year's Festival!
20th June 2015Thoroughly enjoyed my second day at the Winchester Writers' Festival. Topics today included whether to self publish or not, fantasy writing, short stories and how to get the best out of Twitter. (The latter had a wonderfully funny segment on 10 Things Not to Tweet. I've received most of them!). Have prepared a list of things to do as a result of the Festival and am pleased to say have carried out first one tonight. My Twitter profile now has a proper picture of yours truly on it so the egg symbol accompanying my tweets has finally gone. I've also updated my biography. Think it looks better. Had not realised the egg symbol on tweets can be treated like spam so appreciate the info from Emily Benet. Already looking forward to next year's Festival!
19th June 2015
Had a great first day at the Winchester Writers' Festival. The Masters Course I attended was Going Public: Promotion and Performance. Learned a lot from the different exercises. One of these was to read from a piece of text you brought in so I took Just Desserts (available on Alfie Dog, never miss a change to plug!) and the lady I partnered with for the exercises was kind enough to say she liked it. I sometimes think it is easier to read an extract and show people your writing rather than try to explain what it is! I do need to get my pitch down to two well rehearsed lines and I am a bit cross with myself that I forgot to mention my strapline for The Trouble With Mother. This is "When evil wizards and dragons are slain, Eileen and Jenny are left with each other, both aware mothers shouldn't have a past, yet alone one like Eileen's." I found the prepare a Press Release exercise especially useful and I now have a clearer idea of where I should be going on that. Assuming I go ahead with self publishing either TTWM or my short story collection, this is going to be really useful.
13th June 2015
Am really appreciative of a lovely comment in response to What's Your Story? Gill James on the Chandlers Ford Today website. Appreciation of the efforts behind fiction is a rare and highly valued thing!
12th June 2015
The article, What's Your Story? Gill James is now up on the Chandlers Ford Today website. It was huge fun interviewing Gill and I think this shows through in the piece. Hope people find the tips and thoughts helpful.
11th June 2015
Pleased to say my last article In the Gang Show was tweeted by Eastleigh History and a link now appears on their page to the article. Thank you! My next post, What's Your Story? Gill James, should be on the Chandlers Ford Today website as from tomorrow (probably in the evening). This post looks at Gill's life as an author. Gill and I also share writing tips and thoughts. Hope it goes down well.
29th May 2015
My article In The Gang Show: Lyn Darbyshire is up on the Chandlers Ford Today website and I'm pleased to say has already attracted comments. One of the nicest things about the website is the way it encourages people to write in with their memories. Also there are plenty of video and audio clips with this article, which I was delighted to find and I think enhances the article. The one thing that shone through my interview with Lyn and then through the further research I carried out was the sheer enthusiasm of all involved with The Gang Show. It's just a pity that quality can't be bottled for people to draw on when enthuasism is harder to conjure up!
28th May 2015
My next article on Chandlers Ford Today is up tomorrow and will be called In The Gang Show: Lyn Darbyshire. Lyn is a former Scouting District Commissioner and well known in the area and her memories of the local Gang Show are fascinating. I enjoyed interviewing her and she was very helpful. I also carried out further research into the Gang Show, some of which is at the end of this article. Hope you enjoy it!
15th May 2015
The interview with Felicity Fair Thompson is on the Chandlers Ford Today website. The article takes a brief look at Felicity's wide ranging career but focuses mainly on why she started her own printing business, Wight Diamond Press. It was huge fun to interview Felicity (by email) and I hope this comes across in the article itself.
14th May 2015
Part 1 of my interview with Felicity Fair Thompson, writer friend and small publisher, from the Isle of Wight is due on the Chandlers Ford Today website tomorrow. Felicity has had a wide career in the arts - everything from ballet dancing to creative writing teaching with plenty in between and her insights into life as a small publisher are fascinating. It was at the Isle of Wight Writers' Conference that Felicity used to run I met Gill James of Bridge House Publishing. It is funny where things lead at times...!
8th May 2015
I sent a quick, mini blog post to Chandlers Ford Today yesterday, late, advertising the Alfie Dog Fiction short story writing competition. Am glad to say that mini post is now up on the CFT site and would like to express thanks to CFT's editor for her encouraging support of (local) authors and celebrating reading and writing in general.
4th May 2015
Conducted my first face-to-face interview too. It was huge fun to do and the interviewee was lovely. As well as making a smashing cup of tea (which will always go down well, literally, with me), she has very kindly lent to me photos and newspaper articles which will illustrate wonderfully the 3 articles that should come out of this interview. Am looking forward to going through the material and to saying more about this nearer the time the article(s) appear.
2nd May 2015
The first part of my interview with Gill James of Bridge House Publishing went up on the Chandlers Ford Today website on 1st May 2015. I had a great deal of sympathy with small publishers before interviewing Gill. I have even more now! I like to think of interviews like this as celebrating writing and reading and also helping writers see the other side of the publication fence. I believe if you can see how things look from the publisher's viewpoint, it should help improve your own writing and increase your chances of acceptance. Being able to see where a publisher is coming from has got to help!
Alfie Dog Fiction have just announced their Short Story competition. The first prize is £200 and publication of the winning author's short story collection. There will also be editorial support and the book will be published in ebook and paperback formats. See more details on the website at Alfie Dog Fiction.
30th April 2015
My next article on Chandlers Ford Today is due on site tomorrow and features Gill James, of Bridge House Publishing, talking about her life as a small publisher. Doing the interview was huge fun and Gill's replies to my questions are a fascinating insight into a very busy creative writing life. Future posts in May and June will also look at Gill's life as a creative writing lecturer and as an author. This article is going to be the start of a mini series, firstly for the articles relating to Gill herself and, secondly, for future articles featuring another writer/small publisher friend. I hope to give more details on those nearer the time of publication on site but in the meantime I hope you enjoy reading the interview with Gill.
26th April 2015
Have drafted next article for Chandlers Ford Today but for the first time I've added in the images, thanks to the excellent tuition from Janet Williams, the site's editor, a little while ago. CFT is hosted by Word Press and I've also been getting to grips with WP's coding system. So although this article has taken longer than usual to put on site in draft form, I think, and hope, the majority of the work has been done. I will need Janet's condintinuing help with technical aspects of imaging especially but this isn't a problem thankfully. More details on the actual article will appear a little later in the week.
24th April 2015
Have booked my place at the Winchester Writers' Festival. Have also submitted my competition entries. Used the online system for the first time and found this easy to use. I'm going to a Masters Course on the Friday (19th June) as well as attending the usual all-day talks on the Saturday. It should be huge fun and I anticipate learning a lot.
18th April 2015
I've finally learned how to produce hyperlinks to other sites from my websites in a better way. I had been copying and pasting the complete URL and then pressing the external link button, which does work, but URLs are not exactly easy to read. Exploring the Weebly external link function more closely, I've realised I can just put in a description of the link I want which is easier to read and takes up less room. My thanks go to Janet Williams, the editor of the Chandlers Ford Today website, for putting me on to this. One of the things I am really appreciating about blogging for CFT is that I am learning a lot of other skills which will be useful for my websites and other works.
My main links are:-
Chandlers Ford Today
Alfie Dog Fiction
Winchester Writers' Festival
Bridge House Publishing
17th April 2015
My thanks, as ever, go to the editor of Chandlers Ford Today for helping me make the current article, No Books = No Movies?, look really good with clips, captions, audio and pictures. For the first time I embedded some clips on this one, thanks to the excellent tuition from my editor yesterday. For the next article, which I'm beginning to draft, I am going to try to use HTML code for the first time and see how I do. One of the nicest things about writing for CFT is I am learning lots of new skills.
16th April 2015
My next article, No Books = No Movies?, is due on the Chandlers Ford Today website tomorrow. Spent time today with the site's lovely editor and learned lots about embedding images, HTML coding and embedding YouTube clips. I was also spoilt rotten with tea and chocolate so am looking forward to meeting my editor again before too long! Hope you like the article.
14th April 2015
My short story, Just Desserts, is now on the Alfie Dog Fiction site and tells the story of Snow White from the embittered stepmother's viewpoint. Huge fun to write. I've updated my Linkedin profile to bring in my links to Alfie Dog, Chandlers Ford Today, the Society of Authors and the Association of Christian Writers.
11th April 2015
My latest news on the Society of Authors and Alfie Dog Fiction is now on the Chandlers Ford Today website under Local Author News. My thanks go to the CFT site's editor, Janet Williams, for the plug. The link is http://chandlersfordtoday.co.uk/local-author-news-allison-symes/
8th April 2015
Pleased to say my latest story, Life is What You Make It, is now up on The Alfie Dog Fiction site. The link is http://alfiedog.com/fiction/stories/allison-symes/
7th April 2015
I'm very pleased to say I've been upgraded to Full Member status by the Society of Authors today so it is official - I am a writer! Have updated my writer's profile on their website. Will need to update my writing CV but I will be so pleased to have to do that!
5th April 2015 (Easter Sunday)
Gill James tweeted details of a 140 character micro story tonight which was to be submitted by email and if it did well would be performed by a professional actor and the whole thing circulated online. Thinking I had nothing to lose, I found an old piece I prepared as an example of a very short story, did a little bit of editing to ensure the character count was correct and submitted it. It took about 10 minutes in all. This is the quickest submission I ever made and is likely to remain so! The piece I chose I've called A Long Day and features Eileen and Jenny, just as the latter is beginning to get used to being a fairy godmother's daughter.
4th April 2015
There have been good responses to the Doctor Who Experience article. CFT's lovely editor has added some wonderful clips to the comments as well. Pleased with new look to website, as is CFT's editor who liked my creating the external link away from my Home page. This has been done as my work for CFT is separate from my fiction work so I thought it appropriate to arrange things like this. Hope the responses to the article keep coming in - there have been other nominees for Best Doctor, episode and so on.
3rd April 2015 (Good Friday)
The Doctor Who Experience is now up on the Chandlers Ford Today website and my thanks, as ever, go its wonderful editor for helping me with the getty images and links. I did embed one of the actual getty images myself thanks to her excellent email tutorial! For the first time most of the pictures were supplied by me. It's amazing what you can do with a mobile phone these days. Have amended my other website, Fairytales with Bite, to show an external link to the Chandlers Ford Today site page which shows all of my blogs. Will be amending this website once I've finished writing this! It makes sense to me to have one link to cover all the articles.
2nd April 2015
My review of the Doctor Who Experience should be up on the Chandlers Ford Today website tomorrow. Talk about a labour of love! Am continuing to work on items that I hope will become competition entries for this year's Winchester Writers' Festival.
27th March 2015
The guest post is up on Alfie Dog Fiction. Gill James, of Bridge House Publishing, has kindly written a few words about it and shared on Facebook. Have been in contact with another author friend from years ago and I may well be interviewing her for Chandlers Ford Today. Am really enjoying the feeling my writing is beginning to get somewhere though I am very aware that for all writers it is a very long road to travel. The main thing is to enjoy the journey though and right now I really am doing so. I have always enjoyed writing but, as I say, beginning to see pieces appear more regularly, well that is a very good feeling. I only wish I could bottle it so I could savour it on those days when rejections are all that seem to come in via post, or much more likely these days, email.
26th March 2015
Alfie Dog Fiction are due to publish my guest blog spot later today. Hope to put up a link to it later. Also hope they issue more writers' questions soon. Really enjoy answering these. They make me think about what I'm doing as a writer and that can be no bad thing.
23rd March 2015
Am delighted to announce Alfie Dog Fiction is due to publish a guest blog spot from me on Thursday 26th March. They regularly throw open questions to writers to make us think about what we're doing and why and to have a chance to speak out on projects we are working on. I love answering these Q&A sessions.
Also pleased to say Alfie Dog are publishing two stories of mine in April. Life is What You Make It has been significantly amended by me with a much stronger opening so I'm really pleased this has now been accepted. It's always good when you get the reward for working and reworking your items until they are strong enough to be published. Just Desserts tells the Snow White story from the stepmother's view point. Let's just say she's not happy....! If you get to read them, I hope you enjoy them. I loved writing them (and then amending them to get them up to standard).
23rd March 2015 -Am delighted to announce Alfie Dog Fiction is due to publish a guest blog spot from me on Thursday 26th March. They regularly throw open questions to writers to make us think about what we're doing and why and to have a chance to speak out on projects we are working on. I love answering these Q&A sessions. Also pleased to say Alfie Dog are publishing two stories of mine in April. Life is What You Make It has been significantly amended by me with a much stronger opening so I'm really pleased this has now been accepted. It's always good when you get the reward for working and reworking your items until they are strong enough to be published. Just Desserts tells the Snow White story from the stepmother's view point. Let's just say she's not happy....! If you get to read them, I hope you enjoy them. I loved writing them (and then amending them to get them up to standard).
22nd March 2015 -
Many thanks to family, friends and FB friends for their kind birthday wishes. Richard Hardie has informed me that the article paying tribute to Terry Pratchett is now on the Discworld Monthly online magazine with the relevant link. Richard also informed me that sales of The Shambelurklers Return is picking up sales which I can confirm as someone I know has also confirmed purchasing it and will recommend it to others in the autistic groups she's involved with.
20th March 2015 - later...
Have heard directly and via Richard Hardie that sales of The Shambelurklers Return are beginning to pick up. Hope this continues and raises more money for the very worthy National Autistic Society. Nice bit of news for the weekend. Am beginning to prepare two further Q&A interviews for the Chandlers Ford Today website for appearance, hopefully, over next month or two. Really enjoying the blogging. Beginning to feel my writing is getting somewhere - and I love that!
20th March 2015 -
The interview with Richard Hardie is now up on the Chandlers Ford Today website. I love the way its wonderful editor puts in suitable links and pictures, sometimes audio and video clips, to help bring articles to life. Hope you enjoy it.
17th March 2015 -My next Chandlers Ford Today article is an interview with local author, Richard Hardie, and this is due to appear on Friday. As part of that discussion, we talked about favourite authors and we felt, given recent news, the section where we discuss our mutual admiration for Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels would make a simple tribute to the funniest writer this country has produced since Wodehouse. The link to the article is:-<ahref="http://chandlersfordtoday.co.uk/sir-terry-pratchett-1948-2015-an-appreciation-from-chandlers-ford"></a>7th March 2015
Have had some lovely responses to my Jane Austen article. Really appreciate those. Also appreciate the additional link Janet put in to one of her comments on this. Fans of a certain actor will like it too! The next article will be a Q&A with a local (to me) author who is doing well and has some good news to share. I have always loved writer interviews (especially when conducted by other writers. I think the general understanding of what another writer is trying to achieve shines through the text). It turns out I like conducting them too! More on the Q&A nearer the time but think it should look good as pictures already supplied by my interviewee and I hope there may be some others to add. Janet has given me details of sites where you can use images for free or for free with a credit and I hope to investigate these soon.
6th March 2015
Janet, as ever, has done a wonderful job in getting my article, Jane Austen: An Appreciation, ready for the Chandlers Ford Today website. The article was huge fun to do and I very much admire Janet's way of thinking with images. Jane Austen has lots of links given she lived in Southampton, Bath and Winchester and all are easy to get to from where I live.
5th March 2015
My new article, an appreciation of Jane Austen, should be up on the Chandlers Ford Today website from tomorrow evening. Wonderful writer and there are lots of local links to her. My article looks at how Pride and Prejudice is one of my life changing books. Have conducted my first Q&A with another local writer, who has some good news about their latest books. I'm looking forward to receiving his A to my Q! I love Q&A interviews and it was a great joy to conduct one myself. I'm hoping this will form the next article for the 20th March slot. Am, as ever, grateful to the site's wonderful editor for all of her hard work. She really does hold the site together and polishes articles so that mere text becomes a great interactive experience. I'm learning a lot (which is never a bad thing for any writer).
28th February 2015
Am putting finishes touches to next article for the Chandlers Ford Today website. Hope to upload it on to the Word Press site (the editor gave me the details of how to do this) so images and so on can be put on. I've already got next article idea lined up. I will be doing a Q&A session with another writer. It should be fun to do and I'll give more details nearer the time.
20th February 2015
New post is up on the Chandlers Ford Today website. It is about what living in Chandlers Ford has done for me both as a dog owner and as a writer. I am, as ever, grateful to the site's editor for putting the finishing touches to the article in terms of image selection, audio clips etc. I'm learning a lot from writing for this site in that I am thinking more visually and putting suggestions forward for images and clips, something I would not normally do as of course I'm usually writing straight prose that doesn't call for it. I hope that roughly every other post will be directly book related and hope to start drafting next article later this weekend.
19th February 2015
New post due to be go up Chandlers Ford Today website. I hope to write a mixture of articles to do with my writing, books, local links and so on. E'm enjoying what I'm writing and hope I continue to learn a lot about blogging and how to think visually.
6th FebrIuary 2015
New post is on Chandlers Ford Today website. The link is http://chandlersfordtoday.co.uk/allison-symes-book-review-the-daughter-of-time-by-josephine-tey/ and I must say I'm really pleased with the splendid job the editor, Janet Williams, has done to make this post attractive on the eye and ear. Hope you enjoy!
5th February 2015 -
My next post should be appearing on the Chandlers Ford Today website tomorrow (probably in the evening). It will be about how one novel changed my mind about the identity of a murderer. I hope to write posts on a variety of topics and plan to write a mini series about which books have influenced me the most/still continue to influence me. Am thoroughly enjoying writing the posts.
31st January 2015 -Gill James, in her Gill's News newsletter, has put up a link to my review of The Best of Cafe Lit 3. Looks really good. Iron Press were pleased with my mention of Limerick Nation in Writing Magazine. (There was a mention of them separately in the same issue). Iron Press will be launching the book at a festival in June at Cullercoats but it is a bit far for me to go from Hampshire so have selected their option of having another poet read my limerick (if chosen) given I can't get there. I've suggested to them that I could put out some flyers at the Winchester Writers' Festival in June (they are very good at encouraging authors to put out flyers, bookmarks etc on their Bookfair tables) and Iron Press will try and send me something to put out later in the year.
27th January 2015 -
Iron Press have invited me to the launch of Limerick Nation in June. Sadly Cullercoats is just too far away for me to go this but I have confimed I would be happy if another poet reads my contribution out. Am thrilled to be asked though. I hope later in the year after the event there might be links I can put on this site.
26th January 2015 -
Finalized the review of The Best of Cafe Lit 3 and emailed it off to the editor. She loved it and an abbreviated version of the review is now on Amazon. The book has a wonderful collection of 100 word pieces and standard length magazine stories and I can't recommend it highly enough. The stories suit every mood and one short piece in particular turned the mood of the story and made me physically shudder in its last six words! This is only the second review of anything I've done and am glad it went down well. All those years of reading book blurbs and reviews paid off! It was also interesting looking at the book, not from the viewpoint of the author who wants to get work in there, but from those judging what should go in and I hope I can take what I learned here and use it to improve my own stories.
23rd January 2015 -
New post about travel/days out from local railway station/changing attitudes to travel and why I haven't flown despite living near an airport now up on the Chandlers Ford Today website. Am working on next post which will, to quote Monty Python, be completely different. Am enjoying writing the posts. All good writing practice I think. Very pleased a near neighbour has had her poem published in Writers' Forum. The next best thing to being published yourself is when a friend is published.
22nd January 2015 -Marit Meredith, editor of The Shambelurklers Return, has kindly put a photo of my piece in Writing Magazine about that book (and my limerick in Limerick Nation) up on Facebook. Nice to see friends and neighbours liking said piece, thank you all! Another article from me is due to appear on the Chandlers Ford website tomorrow and after that I plan to be blogging every other Friday on that site on life in Chandlers Ford, writing etc.
19th January 2015
First of a regular series (fortnightly) of posts will hopefully appear on Chandlers Ford Today online on Friday. Really thrilled about this. Should be god writing practice and it builds up a web presence.
9th January 2015
Richard Hardie has sent me a copy of a photo of our local W.H. Smiths as they now have a shelf for his books, Leap of Faith and The Trouble With Swords, and alongside them copies of The Shambelurklers Return. There is also a nice notice saying the latter is raising money for the National Autistic Society. Hope they all do well!
8th January 2015
Writing Magazine has published in their Members' News section my piece about Limerick Nation and The Shambelurklers Return along with a photo of yours truly. Hope the publicity helps sales of Shambelurklers.
4th January 2015
The Chandlers Ford Today website has a new blog post on called 6 Things about Chandlers Ford. Item 5 is about books and writing in generally. Pleased to report The Shambelurklers Return is not only mentioned but there is a nice publicity shot of it on display in our local W.H. Smiths with an accompanying poster. Alongside it are Richard Hardie's books, Leap of Faith and Trouble With Swords, both of which I highly recommend. His poem is in Shambelurklers alongside my short story, Out of Time. Every little bit of publicity helps!
Christmas Eve 2014 -
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all! Hope you enjoy whatever books and stories you may receive as presents. I hope to back on line in a couple of days. Am looking forward to my planned project for 2015, my short story collection.
20th December 2014 -
Glad to say two humorous Christmas limericks of mine are due to appear on the Chandlers Ford Today website on Christmas Eve. Hope you enjoy them. I loved writing them!
18th December 2014 -
Glad to say Christian Writer, the quarterly magazine of the Association of Christian Writers, has published my small piece plugging Limerick Nation by Iron Press (which has my Hampshire limerick in it) and Out of Time, my story in The Shamblelurklers Return, the book raising money for the National Autistic Society.
7th December 2014 -
My article, What Christmas Means to Me, is now up on the Chandlers Ford Today website. I've put on a separate direct link to it from here. I'm absolutely thrilled with the wonderful work the editor of this site has carried out in terms of enhancing my article with You Tube clips. It makes the article interactive and I've learned so much since starting to work with this editor. (Not least of which is learning how to put up direct links on my websites!).
6th December 2014 -Many thanks to Gill James and Debz Hobbs-Wyatt for organizing the Bridge House Authors Celebration in London today. A great time was had by all and it is always great to get together with fellow writers. Given the event was held near Charing Cross/Trafalgar Square even got to do a bit of "tourist" sightseeing on the way to and from the do. Reminded I must go and visit the National Portrait Gallery. Back to the do. I didn't take part in the readings but loved the stories and poems I heard. I can't recall the last time I was "read to". Everyone who did read "performed" their stories/poems and it was one highlight of the afternoon for me. Hope we can get together again like that, folks, hint hint!
(Was particularly nice to meet Debz for first time given A Day Out was put on the Cafe Lit website yesterday). Have put a direct link to the story on this site and on my Fairytales with Bite site.
5th December 2014
My 100 words short story, A Day Out, is up on the Cafe Lit website. Really pleased as these are a challenge to write (but huge fun!). If you like monstrous ducks, this short story is for you!
2nd December 2014
My fantasy dinner party guest list is now up on the Alfie Dog website under their Bites section. It was huge fun inventing who I'd invite and why. I love a wide range of books and music so authors and musicians make it on to my list. I've put up a separate link so you can go directly to the page.
25th November 2014
Have updated one external link. You can now go straight to Part 2 of my interview by Janet Williams on the Chandlers Ford Today website. (You can go straight to the first part via my other website, Fairytales with Bite, but of course you can go to and forth both parts of the interview from either website now).
23rd November 2014
My review (first ever!) of Jeeves and Wooster in Perfect Nonsense is now up on the Chandlers Ford Today website. Am delighted with how editor put on pictures of Wodehouse, a trailer for the show and subheadings, which all make the article look more attractive and easier to read. The only pity is the show is only here in the South for a few days as it is touring the UK. I very much hope the show will be back. I'd happily go and see it again. And it makes a great introduction to the works of Wodehouse.
19th November 2014
Chandlers Ford Today has updated its home page. It now has a rolling picture gallery and one of my author with her books shots is included in it. Links to my interviews are included in the menu listing of articles to read. Feel very flattered.
16th November 2014
Part 2 of my interview with Janet Williams of Chandlers Ford Today is up on site today. Am really pleased at huge picture of the book cover of The Shamblelurkers Return. Every little bit (of publicity) helps.
15th November 2014
Part 1 of my interview with Janet Williams of Chandlers Ford Today is up on site today. It was huge fun to do. Love the presentation of the interview with pictures, You Tube clips etc to break up the text. There's also a very nice session on Remembrance services on this site too.
14th November 2014
A Q&A for Chandlers Ford Today (online magazine) has been accepted by them but will be split into two pieces. One half will deal with my background and local links, the other with me as writer. The nice thing is that this is the first "proper" interview done this way by them and my first proper interview at all! Hope to put up external link once everything's set up.
My answers to Writers on Writing set by Rosemary Kind of Alfie Dog Fiction are now up on their website at http://alfiedog.com/writers-on-writing-allison-symes/
Christian Writer, magazine of the Association of Christian Writers, will be publishing a short piece from me in their Members' Page regarding Limerick Nation and Shambelurklers Return.
Received first royalty statement from Alfie Dog. Whoever bought Giving It A Rest, thank you! Hope this is not my last statement!
Got my play, The Moon's Advocate, out for the BBC Writer's Prize competition. Their email submission process is a doddle to operate. Hope play does okay. Am quite pleased with how I developed the characters in this and I think the play is stronger for it.
Writers' News will be publishing a short piece publicizing Limerick Nation and The Shamblelurklers Return. Don't know yet when it will appear but hopefully it will be before Christmas.
The Shambelurklers Return - now out and available from Lulu.
ISBN = 978-1-326-00283-1 and all proceeds go to the National Autistic Society.
IRON PRESS - www.ironpress.co.uk
Iron Press have just published Limerick Nation which "limericks" the country. I cover Hampshire! Copies available from the Iron Press website. Iron Press have been supporting new writing since 1973 and are supported by the Arts Council.
I have added external links to sites/publishers where I have had work produced on line or via anthology. These are Alfie Dog, Bridge House Publishing, cafelit, Iron Press and Shortbread Short Stories.
Shambelurking Returns - my short story, Out of Time, is in there. All proceeds from this anthology go to the National Autistic Society.