A Great Day, Picture Prompts, and The Incredible Miss Amy

Image Credit:

All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Photos of me signing books (big clue there as to why I’ve had a good day!) taken by Adrian Symes. Images of Scottish lochs taken by me, Allison Symes, when on holiday in September. Was pleased with the play of the light on the water on these.

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Facebook – General

As well as the fab comments from #MaressaMortimer earlier today about Tripping The Flash Fantastic (see below), I spent this afternoon signing copies of the paperback for a customer. I then very happily played “Postman Pat” and delivered said books. Good fun and a great way to spend a Tuesday!

I am happy to sign and post books in the UK so please do DM me if interested. (Visitors to my website, please do use the contact form here).

Now I sometimes blog for A Publisher’s Perspective which is run by #GillJames. Today’s piece is based on a Powerpoint presentation I gave at a workshop she ran (the other author taking part was #DawnKnox). But the presentation also makes for a good interview so am happy to share the link here. Hope you enjoy!

Enjoying my workAlways lovely getting to do some signings

Many thanks, #MaressaMortimer, for the wonderful comments here. Much appreciated.

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Well, I WAS going to love the above, wasn’t I?!

Delighted to say Tripping The Flash Fantastic is now up on the Association of Christian Writers‘ online book shop under Anthologies and Short Stories. Well, flash, like me, IS short!😊

Am also hoping to share other news soon so watch this space.

It is a difficult balancing act to manage effectively new creative writing, editing work, and marketing without “losing out” on any of these important things.

I have found working in different writing sessions to be a good way of managing things. I also look at the week as a whole and have ideas as to what I would have liked to have achieved by the end of it. I’ve found that useful too. (Largely I do achieve what I set out to do but I also break down longer projects into mini-stages and that works for me).

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Hope you’ve had a good weekend. Plans for the writing week to come are to continue marketing Tripping The Flash Fantastic, write my next Chandler’s Ford Today post, hopefully get some flash tales submitted, and get back to one of my two long term projects.

Am catching up with some of my reading too, which is a joy, and hope to be posting some reviews soon too.

Oh and talking of TTFF. If anyone is after a paperback edition, Amazon DO stock them (as do Waterstones). What you’ll see on the Amazon page is something like “one in stock and more on the way”. AND you can always DM me if you’d like a signed copy.

I mention this as (a) it’s part of my marketing for today (!) and (b) I know it had read temporarily out of stock on Amazon. It’s not. The book is a Print on Demand so that really isn’t an issue.

Screenshot_2020-10-20 Tripping the Flash Fantastic Amazon co uk Symes, Allison 9781910542583 Books

There is a picture prompt in my writing diary this week of a charming, autumnal woodland scene. (Definitely the sort of place Lady would want me to take her for a good, long walk). Now the challenge here, I think, is to write something and avoid the cliches.

I don’t know if I will write something to this prompt but I do know if I do, I would want to look beyond the picture itself. I would be thinking of the character(s) I would place in this scene.

Maybe one of them loves autumn walks, maybe the other hates them but it is crucial that that they meet at this point. How does the one who hates autumn walks overcome their hatred or are they just driven by the need to get this meeting over and done with? For me, THERE’S the story rather than in the picture itself. The charming scene is a backdrop.

Mind you, I would love to know why anyone would hate autumnal walks on a sunny, dry day as the picture shows it. In the pouring rain, I can understand. I’ve not come across a picture prompt yet that shows a woodland scene when it has chucked it down with rain and there is mud everywhere! I can’t think why that is…!😊.

The important point though is to look beyond the obvious and see what unique element you can bring to your story using a picture or indeed any other kind of prompt.

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Today has been a nice day. One of the loveliest moments in an author’s life is to sign books for customers waiting for said books. Am happy to do more of this!!😊

And I am also keen, for obvious reasons, to share the joy that is flash fiction. No more excuses about having no time to read, perhaps? Anyone can manage a 100-word story, right?! (Well I like to think so!).

There are certain lightbulb moments that occur to writers and one of mine was in realising flash has to be character led but it was entirely up to me what I did with said characters.

I have to admit I’m generally not that nice to mine (though you’d expect that really) and it is great fun giving some villain their well deserved comeuppance. So satisfying that… (it’s also satisfying to read too!).

Signing TTFF


I’ve been preparing a piece for submission where I talk about flash fiction being a kind of happy writing accident for me. And it was. I hadn’t set out to write flash. Indeed, I hadn’t heard of it when I stared writing seriously for publication. (To begin with, I just wrote for myself and it must have been a good couple of years or so before I decided I would try and get my work out there).

But, obviously, I am very happy about this kind of writing accident! And it kind of confirms a point I’ve made before about being open to trying new forms of writing.

I started out writing standard length short stories (circa 1500 words) and still write them but flash is my big love, writing wise, and I think always will be.

Will that stop me trying a new form of writing that takes my fancy? Oh no.

You do have to try things sometimes and see where they lead you.

After all flash fiction writing has led me to two published books with Chapeltown Books and being one of the winners of the Waterloo Arts Festival Writing Competition three years in row.

Yes, definitely a happy writing accident and am open to more of them!

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Many thanks, everyone, for the tremendous response to my post yesterday about the random adjective generator. It was great fun using that to come up with my story The Incredible Miss Amy! Keep reading – story follows below (this is the problem with doing a round up post in date order!).

What I like about the random generators is you can use them in so many different ways and all of them can be springboards for new stories.

The random number generator, for example, you could use to set the word count for the story you’re going to write.

Equally you could use the number as a time and have a story plot revolve around the importance of that time. Or the number could have special meaning (for good or ill) for your lead character.

You could take that same one number generated and use it in two or three different ways. That has got to be worth having a go at!


I’ve been having fun with the random adjective generator. Yes, I know. I probably should get out more but it’s tricky right now!

Okay, so what came up on said generator tonight then? Ta da… “fearless” and “mushy”. Now there are two words which aren’t usually seen together…!

So what can be done here?

Well, firstly, you can create two characters, one of whom is fearless, one of whom is…. you get the picture.

Secondly, you have one character who is usually fearless but when confronted by a kitten or a puppy suddenly shows a mushy side to them their friends and family don’t usually see. (They’d probably tease them about it too. How would your character respond to that?).

Thirdly, you can use the words themselves and place them at different points in your story. And this is what I have done below. Hope you enjoy.

The Incredible Miss Amy

Miss Amy took no nonsense from anyone but then given she had the ability to jump hundreds of feet in one go, not much was going to worry her.
That all changed on Tuesday last.
Why?


The fearless Miss Amy had almost squashed that poor defenceless, cute looking furry monster, which somehow seemed to be out on the streets on its own (where was its owner?), with a single bound.

Nor could Miss Amy understand why the locals were all shouting at her to get away from the beast. Had they not seen how she’d almost jumped on the thing from a height of over twenty feet?

Certainly the monster looked startled – for a moment.

It admired fearless humans. They usually did stupid things. And then they became all mushy as he squashed them and then ate them. Whole usually too.

And Miss Amy went down a treat.
Ends
Allison Symes 17th October 2020

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Goodreads Author Blog – Book Covers

I’ve been thinking about book covers a lot in the last few months. That’s partly due to the release of my own new book, Tripping The Flash Fantastic, but the book cover is the first thing that draws a potential reader. If they like the cover, they’ll look at the blurb. If they like the blurb, they’ll probably look at the first few paragraphs and then hopefully buy the book. I’ve done this so often myself.

So what is a great book cover? For me, it has to be relevant to the book. It has to be open to different interpretations (so you have to open the book and see which one would be the right one). It has to be attractive, memorable etc.

A tall order? Perhaps but it is so worth getting it right. I don’t know about you but an ill-thought out book cover puts me off from wanting to find out more about the book itself and that would be a shame.

We really do judge a book by its cover!

 

BOOK SIGNINGS, LIBRARIES AND TECHNOLOGY

Facebook – General

My Chandler’s Ford Today post this week is another one about book events. None for ages, then like buses, two on top of each other!

Following on from Anne Wan’s book launch report last week comes Richard Hardie’s news about his book signing at Eastleigh Library last Saturday. This signing was part of Uniform Day (encouraging Cubs and Brownies to complete their book reading badge) and the overall Love Your Library week. It was good to see a packed library. The event was great fun.

I talk about libraries and writers needing each other, Richard shares his thoughts on how the event went and what libraries really can do, and if you did miss Richard at last week’s event, he will be back with his books, Leap of Faith and Trouble With Swords, at the Chandler’s Ford Book Fair on 28th October from 10 am to 12 noon. More details in the post tomorrow.

Meanwhile, for my part, there is plenty of writing and editing work to do so best press on then! (Though I may have a sneaky read of The Best of Cafelit 6 first. Love what I’ve read so far – well done all contributors!).

Eastleigh Library 2017 - Richard gave his talk from here

The rather splendid rug at Eastleigh Library from which friend and fellow writer, Richard Hardie, talked about his Young Adult fantasy novels recently.  Image by me.

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Richard’s table at Eastleigh Library recently.  Image by me.

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Richard and I will be two of the authors taking part in the Book Fair coming up soon.  Image by Catherine Griffin of the Chandler’s Ford Writers’ Hub.

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Flash fiction, I think, is the ultimate proof that less can be more when it comes to storytelling! I am convinced technology (particularly smartphones) helped the form to take off, which is a nice side benefit.

Often when technology brings about changes, there are always fears it will be the death of something else. For example, the monks who wrote out all books by hand (and beautifully done too) didn’t exactly welcome Guttenberg and Caxton!

But things do need to move on. I don’t miss having to use carbon paper when I needed more than one copy of a typewritten letter. I don’t miss literally cutting and pasting stories to get them in the right order for yet another re-typing later on.

I want to see technology getting more people reading, albeit in different ways than previously. I like the way libraries have embraced e-books and I know in Hampshire the Library Service holds regular “Get to Know Your I-Pod” sessions. (You can even borrow one for the duration of the course though you do have to register for these). My Chandler’s Ford Today post tomorrow also talks more about what libraries can do as Richard Hardie and I report on his most recent book signing at Eastleigh Library.

So however you read, enjoy! Ultimately, that is the most important thing.

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Traditional books will always have a place. My stories are in The Best of Cafelit 4, 5 and now 6 and also by Bridge House Publishing (Alternative Renditions). My first collection From Light to Dark and Back Again is published by Chapeltown Books.

 

The Kindle. I read from it at bedtime and have a wide variety of non-fiction and fiction books on it. Image via Pixabay.

The Kindle. I read from it at bedtime and have a wide variety of non-fiction and fiction books on it. Image via Pixabay.

 

GETTING THE WORD OUT

FAIRYTALES WITH BITE

In A to Z of Character Creation Part 3 I tackle the letters F, G and H.  I look at Fiction, Genre and History and look at how these affect characters.

THIS WORLD AND OTHERS

Getting the Word out looks briefly at publicity regarding your books/stories.  I suppose the thing I’ve taken most to heart since the publication of From Light to Dark and Back Again is the importance of not panicking!  I hope to write many more books and so will always be promoting whatever I have written.  Therefore I don’t/won’t be putting myself under an artificial deadline to get things done by. So do what you can publicity wise and do it well.  Nobody does all the different things you are “meant” to do in one hit anyway!

CHANDLER’S FOR TODAY, FACEBOOK (GENERAL AND FROM LIGHT TO DARK AND BACK AGAIN).

My latest CFT post, shared on Facebook and Twitter amongst others, is Why Have Book Signings? Report from the Station.  I look back at my first book signing at Chandler’s Ford Railway Station (last week!) and why such events are important and not just for the author.  I look at how signings can create community too.  I also take the chance to say a big thanks to the Three Rivers Rail Community Partnership for their support and without whom I would not have had my signing.

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WHEN FAIRYTALES COME TRUE…

IMAGE CREDIT: 

All photos were taken by me, Allison Symes, on 8th July 2017, except the feature image.  That was taken by my lovely Chandler’s Ford Today editor, Janet Williams, at my first book signing event at our local railway station. And to all who bought From Light to Dark and Back Again and/or came over to discuss flash fiction with me, many thanks.  It was great to meet you.

FAIRYTALES WITH BITE

When Fairytales Come True looks at how characters handle when things go right for them, they get to achieve long cherished dreams etc.  This post came about because I fulfilled a long held dream today.  I had my first ever book signing for From Light to Dark and Back Again at Chandler’s Ford Railway Station and it went well.  I plan to write more about that for next week’s Chandler’s Ford Today post – Adventures of a Newbie Author Part 1, perhaps!  But the thought of having a long held dream actually happen made me wonder how characters handle success, especially if they have had to wait a long time for it.  So how would your characters handle this?  There could be some good stories here.

THIS WORLD AND OTHERS

Overcoming the Nerves also ties in with my book signing!  Well they do say, authors should write about what they know!  For me, characters who overcome nervousness, fear etc and go on to do something great are real heroes.  They are also far more believable (and readable) than “fully fledged” heroes who never seem to feel or show emotion, who never question themselves so to what they are doing and why.  So what do your characters need to overcome in terms of their personality to be able to go on the adventure you’re planning for them?

FACEBOOK – GENERAL AND FROM LIGHT TO DARK AND BACK AGAIN

Naturally I focus on the book signing but also take the chance to thank those who supported me, especially the Three Rivers Rail Community Partnership.

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Stories (and indeed most books of any kind) are magical. Image via Pixabay.

READY OR NOT?

Busy night tonight.

FAIRYTALES WITH BITE

I share news of my latest Chandler’s Ford Today post (link to follow) and my book signing for From Light to Dark and Back Again at the local railway station tomorrow (8th July).  Many thanks to the Three Rivers Rail Community Partnership for their support here.  I hope it will be fun!

My main post here tonight is Fairytale Marketing and looks at the downside of magical marketing.  Since when has exchanging a good cow for a handful of beans ever been a good deal?  Loved writing this.  I like ironic pieces.   Hope you do too.

THIS WORLD AND OTHERS

My post Ready or Not looks at being ready for book signings (so I definitely wrote this one for me tonight as an aide memoir!) but also being ready for doing your own marketing work, co-operating with your publisher and so on.  I also look at whether your characters are ready for the tasks you have set them and whether the story is in their failure or whether it is in them rising to the occasion and doing far better than anyone expects.

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A long post from me tonight highlighting my book signing and also next weekend (15th July).  I’ll be going, hopefully, to this year’s Medieval Weekend supported by The Road to Agincourt Project.  They are launching a Virtual Museum and I’m looking forward to finding out much more about it.

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FACEBOOK – FROM LIGHT TO DARK AND BACK AGAIN

Again I highlight the book signing – but no real surprises there!

CHANDLER’S FORD TODAY

Tonight’s post is all about the Medieval Weekend coming up soon.

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The tools of the medieval writer's trade

The tools of the medieval writer’s trade

UPDATES AND BOOK SIGNING NEWS

UPDATE/BOOK SIGNING NEWS

Sorry for the big gap in posting.  This has been due to having my father’s funeral, then having a much needed holiday and, for writing reasons at least, I’ve been setting up my first book signing for From Light to Dark and Back Again.  This will be at Chandler’s Ford Railway Station on Saturday 8th July between 9.20 am and 12 noon.  Many thanks to the Three Rivers Rail Community Parrtnership for their support.  Given you can never know how these events will go in advance, I am both looking forward to it and feeling nervous all at the same time!

I m hoping later in the year to revamp my websites and how I blog but in the meantime I am planning to get back to more regular blogging.  I also hope to finally get a newsletter up and running but I will post news on that I hope as and when ready.

FAIRYTALES WITH BITE

I recently interviewed local children’s author, Anne Wan., for Chandler’s Ford Today and one thing that came out from this was her love and loathing of editing.  What do you think of editing? I love the editing process and I share my thoughts in Why Love Editing?

THIS WORLD AND OTHERS

In Updates, due to the big gap in posting, I thought it would be useful to write a “round robin” of a blog post and here I share my interview with Anne Wan (Parts 1 and 2).  I also share my most recent Chandler’s Ford Today post about my upcoming book signing.

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WHAT EVERY GOOD STORY MUST HAVE IN IT

FAIRYTALES WITH BITE

I list four things that should appear in every story we write and explain why.  Please feel free to comment if you can think of other things that should appear, regardless of story length or genre.  None of the four things will come as a surprise!

THIS WORLD AND OTHERS

Why Fiction Matters shares my views on this topic.  It also ties in with my Chandler’s Ford Today post for this week.  More on that below.  As for this post, I look at how fiction can present truths in a way that can make them easier to accept at times.  And never despise stories that are “just” entertaining.  Those kind of tales bring much needed relaxation to anyone under pressure (I find this myself at times).  The nice thing with this is writing those tales can also bring much needed relaxation!

CHANDLER’S FORD TODAY

This week’s post is one I’ve wanted to write up for a while and I look at why children’s fiction matters to all writers.  I write for adults yet know the vast majority of my audience will have been brought up on books as children and kept the reading habit going.  Adult fiction writers do owe a huge debt to children’s fiction writers for this.  I also share some of my favourite childhood books.

FACEBOOK – GENERAL

This refers to my CFT post for this week.

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FACEBOOK – FROM LIGHT TO DARK AND BACK AGAIN

Has been a busy week on the book front this week.  I’ve managed to place some books in a local outlet (as well as putting postcards there).  I’ve also submitted a Press Release about my upcoming book signing on 8th July at Chandler’s Ford Railway Station and the local Discovery magazine, w hich gets put through every door in the area, has agreed to take it!  I hope to submit the PR elsewhere but am very pleased with this.  I also discuss briefly why I like flash fiction.

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Special Note

Family issues have meant I haven’t had as much time to write as normal, which is why I’ve not been posting quite so often to my websites and to here.  I hope to rectify this as and when I can but I will be aiming to post three times a week when I can’t do so nightly.  I also still hope to sort out a mailing list for a newsletter where I plan to share exclusive material not found here such as story extracts, good writing advice from old CFT posts and so on.  Still not certain about timing due to ongoing family issues but will put a note up when it is ready.

Feature Image Why Children's Fiction Matters

 

I write fairytales with bite as flash fiction and short stories in particular. Image via Pixabay.

THE POINT OF IT ALL

FAIRYTALES WITH BITE

The Point of It All discusses one aspect where fiction is very clearly shown to be fiction.  This is the fact that the main character (and usually more of your “cast”)  know the point of it all in terms of their story.  They know where they are heading.   Also if they were to forget, there is someone else who will always remind them.  Frodo Baggins and Sam are the best examples of this that I can think of.  Think about how your main characters regroup and refocus (and who helps them to do that) when they lost sight of their goal in the story.

THIS WORLD AND OTHERS

Nothing but the Best discusses the fact that we have to present the very best material if we have any hope at all of being published.  So do our characters come across the way we mean them to do?  The very best characters, whether they are evil or good, will ring true in all they say and do (even if they are being false!).

FACEBOOK – GENERAL

I look at character studies tonight and why flash fiction is a great vehicle for them.

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FACEBOOK – FROM LIGHT TO DARK AND BACK AGAIN

Am making progress with advertising my latest event – the book signing at Chandler’s Ford Railway Station on 8th July!  Will share more news as and when I can but am pleased with how things are going so far.  Also looking forward to the Winchester Writers’ Festival which is next month.  Have not entered any of the writing competitons this year as far too busy on the book (and family circumstances have taken up the rest of my time) but am looking forward to catching up with old friends, hopefully making new ones, as well as enjoying the courses.

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FAIRYTALE MISMATCHES AND SURPRISES

FAIRYTALES WITH BITE

I share some examples of Fairytale Mismatches tonight.  What might happen when the Three Bears, just having had their house vandalized, meet a crone never before seen in the area selling suspiciously shiny food?  Hmm…  What might happen if Cinderella is confronted by the elves who helped the shoemaker for being careless enough to lose her glass slipper?  I think there could be some very unhappy ever after endings here!

THIS WORLD AND OTHERS

I met Mark Miller of the Three Rivers Rail Community Partnership unexpectedly today and this was lovely as they are supporting my book signing session at Chandler’s Ford Railway Station on 8th July. It was great to meet him.  I like surprises like that.  Talking of which, in Surprises – Nice or Otherwise, I ask how do your characters react to surprises?  If you write twist in the tale stories as I do, is there a twist and one that is reasonable based on the premise of your story?  Life is full of surprises, many of which are life changing.  How do your bring those into your story and how do your characters handle them?

FACEBOOK – GENERAL

I love interviewing other writers for Chandler’s Ford Today and I particularly relish finding out what inspired them to write in the first place.   I talk more about this in tonight’s post.  (Oh and yes I do love pictures of beautiful libraries incidentally!).

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FACEBOOK – FROM LIGHT TO DARK AND BACK AGAIN

Two posts here tonight.  I talk again about meeting Mark Miller but also share a link to my review on Chandler’s Ford Today a while ago of the wonderful guide book, Station Walks, which is fully supported by the Three Rivers Rail Community Partnership.  I recommend both the book and the Salisbury walks in it, though I’d like to find time to try out the other walks listed.

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My second post lists some of the advantages of flash fiction.  This includes being easy to read both in terms of mobile devices (the stories look great on here and scrolling down is a doddle) but also, with print books, being easy to dip into as and when.  (Yes, I know I’m biased!).  Also there are more flash fiction competitions these days and you can even use flash as a way to draft a blurb for a book.  See my post for more.

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