Thank You!

Image Credit: All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Image of Lady and I taken by Adrian Symes.

Facebook – General

Final prize winner and runner-up prizes hand delivered locally today. Many thanks to everyone who has tweeted/sent messages to say they’ve got their “prize bundles”. Always nice to get something nice in the post/through the door instead of the usual bills etc.  (See tweets at the end of tonight’s post). This is one of the nicest aspects of being a writer!).

Writing wise, I’m working my way back into my “normal” writing life with my CFT post already scheduled for this week. Am hoping to get back to my long term non-fiction project sometime this week and want to start submitting new work to Cafelit etc before long. There are other marketing things I want to do for Tripping The Flash Fantastic. So definitely not going to be short of things to do!

It can be tricky getting the balance right for writing new work, editing work so you can get on and submit it somewhere, and marketing for work you’ve already done.

My overall view is to try and get something done on every aspect in allocated time slots for them several times during the week.

Okay some weeks I will get more done than others but it is making the space available that helps so much here. Tuesday, I’m drafting blogs, Thursday, I’m marketing books etc etc. It is not set in stone and allows room for overlap but does make sure I cover as much as I can over a seven day period.

If I see an invite on a book related blog or FB group to share details of my new book, then I’ll drop things to do precisely that and resume what I was doing afterwards. But you get the idea.

I don’t think there is a perfect system for this kind of thing (and I think I’d be distrustful of anyone who said there was. What works for one person may not work for another) but what I do love about the writing community as a whole is the willingness to share ideas.

I’ve lost count of how many tips I’ve picked up over the years which have all increased my productivity/time management so I get more work done overall. (Scrivener is by the far the best tip I’ve taken advantage of here!).


Hope your Monday has been a reasonable one. I do feel a little like I’ve crashed back to earth again after the cyberlaunch for Tripping The Flash Fantastic on Saturday but I was expecting that.

Mind you, with a day spent washing, rescuing said washing from heavy rainfall, cooking and shopping, well it is definitely life as it is lived once again. Nobody said it had to be glamorous! (Just as well really! 😊😊😊).

Things to come this week. I will be appearing on #ValPenny’s blog later this week and am looking forward to sharing the link for that.

Quick heads-up to the winners and runners-up in the various little games I set on Saturday – your prizes are winging their way to you via Royal Mail so should be with you later this week. Hope you enjoy. It was a great joy to get those off at the post office today (and yes I did tell them what was in the packets!).

There are a couple of you lucky people who live near enough for me to deliver your prizes so I hope to do that tomorrow.

And before I forget, a big thanks for all the entries to the photo caption competition. All of them made me laugh and it was a hard task deciding on the winner and runner-up. This is something I will look to do again. It was great fun. (Photo I used is below. This just had “caption competition” all over it – well it did to me! Image taken by my better half, Adrian Symes).

LADY DISCUSSES TTFF WITH ME

My Chandler’s Ford Today post is going to be different this week too. It’s the first post I’ve written which is a non-fiction one (as usual) but which also incorporates a new flash fiction story from yours truly. The tale is funny but also gets a good point across. I look forward to sharing the link for that on Friday.

I can’t really say more without giving things away BUT can add I am hoping people will join in with the challenge I set in this post. Oh and the challenge is definitely “do-able” so more later in the week.

A HUGE thank you to all who supported my cyberlaunch in any way on Saturday night.

It was great fun to “chat” with so many of you and I had a whale of a time. Hope you did too.

Glad to see that the old Youtube clip of Monster Mash went down so well with everyone. It was great having a trip down that particular Memory Lane!

I’ve always loved the track and see it as a kind of a salute to Bewitched, The Munsters, The Addams Family etc. And given many of my flash fiction tales are on the quirky side, it is such an apt track to pick!

Have happily spent today getting the prizes ready to send to those lucky people who won or were runners-up in my raffle, quiz, and photo caption competition. Am looking forward to telling the good people in my local Post Office what is in the packets before posting them off! Subtle advertising or showing off – YOU decide!😂😂

And the icing on the cake today?

I’m absolutely thrilled to share that Tripping the Flash Fantastic broke into the Top 1000 on Kindle for Single Author Story Collections on Amazon earlier today. This is a first for me and am feeling seriously chuffed, as you do.🙂😉

Thank you, everyone!

PS I do offer signed copies of the paperback and am happy to post them off to you especially if you’re in the UK.  Just DM me and we can take things from there. For anyone outside of the UK, I can post the book but will need to allow extra postage costs. Having said that, I do have an Amazon page in various countries so it would be worth checking those out.

Screenshot_2020-10-11 Tripping the Flash Fantastic eBook Symes, Allison Amazon co uk Kindle Store

Now this was a time related post on Saturday night of course! But I am leaving the link to the discussion page for my event here. Do check out the posts – and the links. I will put in shortly a couple of my videos sharing extracts from my new book.

About 20 minutes to go to my cyberlaunch for Tripping the Flash Fantastic. Hope to see you there. Have got a great pic for a photo caption competition so get your thinking caps on – oh and keep them clean! More to come on the launch page which is at https://www.facebook.com/events/1246876649024453/?active_tab=discussion

And do see http://mybook.to/TrippingFlashFantastic for more!

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

I’ve mentioned the use of random generators before and I used one on Saturday night for my cyberlaunch for Tripping The Flash Fantastic. I used a number generator to give all visitors to my launch a unique number. I then used it again later to “draw” the numbers for the winner and runners-up for my online raffle.
 
Now another way to use the random number generator is to use it to set the word count for your next flash tale. I’ve just used it and generated “25”. So let’s see then… (oh and I am counting the title in the word count).
 
Twenty-Five
It was my favourite number until I got soaked through thanks to the bus driver speeding his wretched double decker through a massive puddle.
Allison Symes – 13th October 2020
 
Hope you enjoy!
 
sunny-luck-ipad-business.jpg

Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.comI found a random generator to be more useful than a pair of dice for the raffle but it is hard to find a picture of a random number generator!


A new flash fiction story from me, which is funny yet still manages to get a good point across, will form part of my Chandler’s Ford Today post this week. I look forward to sharing the link on Friday.

When I started drafting my post, I hadn’t planned to put fiction into it. After all my CFT posts are strictly non-fiction but I quickly realised that what I was trying to say would work better as a flash tale in the overall post so that it is what I have done. I am also setting a challenge in this post but it is a fun one so I hope you join in!

I sometimes use flash fiction directly in marketing. (After all I include a flash tale in both of my book trailers for FLTDBA and now Tripping the Flash Fantastic. It is a great way to show people what flash fiction is as well as being a very useful “taster”).

This is where the advantage of a short form comes in useful. I can share a whole story and it doesn’t take too much in download time etc.


What a weekend! Many thanks to everyone for your support for my cyberlaunch on Saturday night.

Marketing for a book is, of course, an ongoing thing, and should always be seen as long term. Last week, for me, was the big push ahead of the cyberlaunch naturally.

Plans now are to continue to find different ways to market the book, get back to flash fiction writing (well, that third collection won’t write itself!), and I am itching to resume work on a non-fiction book too. So no danger of me becoming bored any time soon and that is how I like it!

Now on my original FB post. I did say the following!

I will just finish tonight by sharing the trailer for TTFF again. I share a story, Time For Some Peace, here, and it makes a good place to start if you’re new to flash fiction.

However, I’ve already shared this above so will share here a recording of me reading a very short piece called The Back of Beyond from TTFF. Hope you enjoy.

Am looking forward to sharing some of my flash tales from Tripping The Flash Fantastic at my launch in about 20 minutes time as I type this. Hope to see you at https://www.facebook.com/events/124687664902445/?active_tab=discussion

Note:  videos included above but do check out the event posts as they were great fun. The whole Facebook post is far too long to reproduce here and it is simpler to share the link but also check out the music clips here. It was such fun and everyone seemed to enjoy it which I am so pleased about! I had such fun playing with Canva with various things for my FB posts in the run up to the launch – see in the pictures below. Will happily use Canva again.

Goodreads Author Blog – What Is It About Books You Love Most?

Difficult question to answer isn’t it? So much depends on the genre chosen too.

Overall, it has to be the characters who grip me. I’ve got to want to find out what happens to them. I’ve got to care about the outcome. It does have to matter to the character and therefore to me as the reader.

For historical fiction, I’m always keen to find out how a writer shares the information we need to know about the period without giving us “information overload”. That is they don’t give a whole wealth of information so you end up forgetting what the story actually is.

I like to see information drip fed to me in an entertaining way. One of my favourite books ever is The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey and that is a great example of how information is shared while keeping the story going and the pace up.

For crime fiction, I want to see how the author gives clues without giving the whole game away and that is not an easy balancing act.

For fantasy, I want to see characters I can identify with in terms of their needs and longings even if their species is totally alien in every sense of that phrase!

For me, a good read of whatever kind is getting the readers hooked to the characters. For non-fiction, that character is the voice of the narrator.

Happy reading!

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https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

CYBERLAUNCH – TRIPPING THE FLASH FANTASTIC

Image Credit: All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.

Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

A self explanatory post from me for CFT this week (well, you can’t get more self explanatory than Local Author Cyberlaunch News – Allison Symes – Tripping The Flash Fantastic – can you?!)

Having said that I do share in this post some thoughts on cyberlaunches, the joy of technology, and how good prep work helps SO much with this kind of event.

Hope you enjoy the post and hope to see you at the Tripping The Flash Fantastic event tomorrow.  See both the CFT post for details and the direct link here.

Screenshot_2020-10-02 Tripping The Flash Fantastic Cyberlaunch Facebook

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Well, it has been quite a week but it is lovely to end it looking ahead to the cyberlaunch tomorrow.

I am also delighted to share a fantastic (appropriately!) review for Tripping the Flash Fantastic from Aly Rhodes which came in today. A huge thanks to her and to all of my lovely reviewers so far.

TRIPPING THE FLASH FANTASTIC
This is the author’s second collection of flash fiction i.e. where the stories are often very brief ( 100 words) up to maybe 1000 at most; maximum story with minimum wordage. Here in this collection witches play tricks, historic figures give their pov’s (Anne Boleyn), Santa Claus is revealed, dragons fly, and fairy godmothers run rampant.

Symes has enormous fun with these quirky, alternative mini-tales, which often make the reader laugh but sometimes cry too.

My favourites were The Pink Rose, (outstandingly touching), And Then There Are Tuesdays (I was born on a Tuesday so this had resonance for me) and Time To Be Off, the last line cracked me up.

Dip in, sample, taste and savour these short shorts.

And on behalf of ALL writers, I’ll take the chance to say reviews are always hugely appreciated by us all. They don’t have to be long but they help so much.

I use reviews myself as a consumer for everything from book purchases to new groceries to try! So if you’re thinking of reviewing but haven’t done so, perhaps you’re wondering if it’s worth it, then let me say it definitely IS worth it. Please do send them in!


Tripping the Flash Fantastic Cyberlaunch
ONE DAY TO GO! Where has the week gone? Time for another story I think.
Look forward to seeing you on my Facebook event page from 7 pm tomorrow.

As well as celebrating the launch of Tripping The Flash Fantastic (and it means so much to me to have a second book out), I would like to see the launch as a celebration of stories. They are always worth celebrating! Cheers!

Tonight I share one of my favourite tales from TTFF – Being Yourself. You may never look at librarians in quite the same way again…🙂😉


Delighted to share another review for Tripping the Flash Fantastic. Many thanks to Gail Aldwin for the following.

TRIPPING THE FLASH FANTASTIC

The title sums up this collection exactly! These short stories contain characters including dragons, witches, fairies, ghosts, figures from history and contemporary life. Many stories include unusual observations and viewpoints. Some are funny, others pack a punch. If you enjoy a diverse collection of stories, this is the book for you!

When it comes to reading, as well as writing flash collections, I do love a variety of mood and characters. It is always the characters I want to discover and root for/boo hard at (depending on whether they’re the villain or not). Naturally that love of character comes out in my own writing.

And a little later, I’ll be sharing a brief reading of one of my stories from Tripping the Flash Fantastic on my events page, which I hope you enjoy. (I’ve put one of the videos I’ve used up above and will share another here shortly). (Oh and below are three other images I did have in mind for the book cover for TTFF at some point).

Tripping the Flash Fantastic Cyberlaunch
It’s storytime as the flyer says. I’m reading Judgement Day from Tripping The Flash Fantastic and then share a little of what led me to writing this story. Hope you enjoy. Oh and before I forget, as if I could (!)… TWO DAYS TO GO! (When I put this on Facebook during the week of course. It has been a busy and exciting week as you can probably tell by now!).

Storytime - Judgement Day By Allison Symes


Such good fun to be on a mini blog tour at the moment. I was guest on #PatriciaMOsborne’s blog yesterday. Today I am on Jen Wilson’s blog (see my earlier post for the link). Next week I shall be on Val Penny’s one. And the two things the four of us have in common?

As well as being writers, we are all stalwarts of the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School. AND two of us are part of the renowned Prosecco Queens’ quiz team of said Summer School!

(Image below is of me taking part in the Open Prose Mic Night at the School in 2019. Many thanks to #PennyBlackburn for the pic. The other image was taken by Cheryl Holland on my phone and features Val Penny and Jen Wilson and other lovely Swanwick friends. We all can’t wait for Swanwick to resume, hopefully, in 2021).

34889c89ed2c7f0164fbf25826dd9ac9.0Always time for a laugh with fellow writers-1

Many thanks to #JenniferCWilson for hosting me on her blog today. It is always great fun to talk about flash fiction. Knowing Jennifer’s own love for history, it was particularly nice to discuss this aspect of my flash fiction writing with her here.

Flash fiction has the huge advantage of being character led and I can set those characters wherever and whenever I want. Great fun! But with Tripping The Flash Fantastic, for the first time, I have written historically based flash fiction. See the article for more about this but it is something I hope to do more of at some point.

Just to confirm the link for my launch event on Saturday can be found at https://www.facebook.com/events/1246876649024453

Tripping the Flash Fantastic Cyberlaunch
I’m on a mini blog tour at the moment with fellow stalwarts from the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School. It was a pleasure to chat yesterday with Patricia M Osborne on her blog.

Today I chat with Jen Wilson on her blog

Next week I shall be on Val Penny’s blog and it has been great having slots ahead of the cyberlaunch and again just after it.

As I know Jen writes historical paranormal (do check out her Kindred Spirits series), my focus for this blog spot was on my historical flash stories in TTFF.

I’ve mentioned on my posts before that one thing I love about flash fiction is it has to be character-led. That means I can set those characters wherever and whenever I want!

For the first time with TTFF, I have set stories back in time. There are stories in here which are from the viewpoint of Richard III and Elizabeth of York for example, as well as my trademark “fairytales with bite” fiction.

All good fun to do and, of course, history is full of wonderful and not-so wonderful characters. This is an aspect of flash writing I hope to do more of in future.


Time for a listen I think! I had the great joy of being a guest on #WendyHJones’ excellent podcast, The Writing and Marketing Show, earlier this year. My first time on a podcast, great fun to do, and no prizes for guessing what I talked about (though there is a huge hint below!).

Do check out Wendy’s show every Wednesday. All of the episodes are jam packed with tips and advice.

See https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/the-writing-and-marketing-show/e/67280384

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again –


One of the challenges of any form of fiction writing is ensuring readers can tell your characters apart by the way they speak etc.

Now with flash fiction where I often focus on one character per story, that isn’t a problem as such.

Where the challenge DOES come in is ensuring that in a collection like From Light to Dark and Back Again and now Tripping the Flash Fantastic as well, the characters in the books as a WHOLE are nicely varied. Readers should be able to distinguish between the stories (and thus the characters).

It’s another reason why I like a good variety of mood and tone in my books as that helps with this aspect enormously.


Sometimes when I write my flash tales, I have the character in mind clearly and I then need to think of something for them to do! At other times I have the ideas of a situation to write about but need the right person to “fill” the role, so to speak. So this is why I jot down ideas for stories but also for characters.

Let’s say a competition theme is one of honesty. I could go one of two ways here – use an honest character and highlight the theme via them directly. Or I can use a dishonest character and contrast them with the honest situation. Both would work. It’s then down to me to decide which of the two characters I think is the strongest and I will then write their story up.


This week is going to be focused on my launch for Tripping the Flash Fantastic, of course, but I am looking forward to sharing a couple of readings from the new book. (See above!).

How do I choose stories for reading for things like this or for Open Prose Mic Nights and the like? I try to go for a balance of mood. If I read a funny tale, I will read a darker one too. I also go for a balance of lengths too. If I read a 100-worder, I will also read a 250 or something that is a little longer than the first tale I read.

Above all, I try not to go on for too long. Recordings are best kept fairly short (as it effects download time etc). Also a short recording or reading makes it easier to keep your listener’s interest.

Pic below is of me reading at the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School’s Open Prose Mic Night (and there’s a phrase you don’t want to say quickly!). A huge thanks to #GeoffParkes for the pic.

The Open Mic for Prose night

Fairytales With Bite – The Sting in The Tail


One of the joys of flash fiction writing, which is my big love, is it is a great form for twist in the tale endings. Also, as the form has to be character led, you can set those characters whenever and wherever you want. Your characters don’t have to be human either. I like all of that!

One great thing about using non-human characters is you can use them to reflect aspects of us. Animal Farm by George Orwell does that brilliantly. (Definitely not flattering either).

The most effective stings in the tail are for me where:-

1. The character is an aggravating one and deserves whatever is coming to them!

2. You think a character you’re rooting for has little chance of winning and things change at the very last moment so that they do win out. (The classic fairytales often work on this basis. Think of Cinderella when the Prince insists that all of the women in the household have to try the glass slipper. Had the Prince not been so persistent….)

So think about how and where in your story you are going to place your sting. In my Calling The Doctor from From Light to Dark and Back Again, my sting is in the very last word.

Both book trailers below. (For me it is lovely seeing them side by side).

Hope you enjoy the stories and do think about how you can make your sting have the maximum impact on a reader. Sometimes you can know the sting fairly early on. It is then a question of finding out whether the character deals with that sting in a good way or not and that can be fun too.

This World and Others – Conjuring Up Your World


What do you want readers to imagine when they read your stories? What aspects of your created world are the most important for them to read about and how can you convey that?

I’ve mentioned before it is often the telling detail placed in the right place in a story that has the maximum impact on a reader. I don’t necessarily need to know Character A lives in an “upside down” world.

I do need to know Character A walks on what we would consider to be the sky and a brief showing of how that is done. (For the characters that live in this world it would all be perfectly natural of course, but often a story changes dramatically when a stranger comes into the world and someone has to show them the ropes).

Readers need a sense that if your world were to exist somewhere, it could exist. That is your characters can find food, drink, shelter, there is some sort of government etc. You can unveil this a bit at a time and I can think of no better example to use than Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series. You find out more about how Ankh-Morpork is “run” as the series goes on. What he gives you in each story is enough for you to make sense of that story.

Image Credit: All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.

Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

A self explanatory post from me for CFT this week (well, you can’t get more self explanatory than Local Author Cyberlaunch News – Allison Symes – Tripping The Flash Fantastic – can you?!)

Having said that I do share in this post some thoughts on cyberlaunches, the joy of technology, and how good prep work helps SO much with this kind of event.

Hope you enjoy the post and hope to see you at the Tripping The Flash Fantastic event tomorrow.  See both the CFT post for details and the direct link here.

Screenshot_2020-10-02 Tripping The Flash Fantastic Cyberlaunch Facebook

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Well, it has been quite a week but it is lovely to end it looking ahead to the cyberlaunch tomorrow.

I am also delighted to share a fantastic (appropriately!) review for Tripping the Flash Fantastic from Aly Rhodes which came in today. A huge thanks to her and to all of my lovely reviewers so far.

TRIPPING THE FLASH FANTASTIC
This is the author’s second collection of flash fiction i.e. where the stories are often very brief ( 100 words) up to maybe 1000 at most; maximum story with minimum wordage. Here in this collection witches play tricks, historic figures give their pov’s (Anne Boleyn), Santa Claus is revealed, dragons fly, and fairy godmothers run rampant.
Symes has enormous fun with these quirky, alternative mini-tales, which often make the reader laugh but sometimes cry too.
My favourites were The Pink Rose, (outstandingly touching), And Then There Are Tuesdays (I was born on a Tuesday so this had resonance for me) and Time To Be Off, the last line cracked me up.
Dip in, sample, taste and savour these short shorts.

And on behalf of ALL writers, I’ll take the chance to say reviews are always hugely appreciated by us all. They don’t have to be long but they help so much. I use reviews myself as a consumer for everything from book purchases to new groceries to try! So if you’re thinking of reviewing but haven’t done so, perhaps you’re wondering if it’s worth it, then let me say it definitely IS worth it. Please do send them in!

Tripping the Flash Fantastic Cyberlaunch
ONE DAY TO GO! Where has the week gone? Time for another story I think.
Look forward to seeing you here from 7 pm tomorrow. As well as celebrating the launch of Tripping The Flash Fantastic (and it means so much to me to have a second book out), I would like to see the launch as a celebration of stories. They are always worth celebrating! Cheers!
Tonight I share one of my favourite tales from TTFF – Being Yourself. You may never look at librarians in quite the same way again…🙂😉
Smile and wink emojis. BY recording.

8th October

Delighted to share another review for Tripping the Flash Fantastic. Many thanks to Gail Aldwin for the following.

The title sums up this collection exactly! These short stories contain characters including dragons, witches, fairies, ghosts, figures from history and contemporary life. Many stories include unusual observations and viewpoints. Some are funny, others pack a punch. If you enjoy a diverse collection of stories, this is the book for you!

When it comes to reading, as well as writing flash collections, I do love a variety of mood and characters. It is always the characters I want to discover and root for/boo hard at (depending on whether they’re the villain or not). Naturally that love of character comes out in my own writing.
And a little later this evening, I’ll be sharing a brief reading of one of my stories from Tripping the Flash Fantastic on my events page, which I hope you enjoy. (Oh and below are three other images I did have in mind for the book cover for TTFF at some point). Use TTFF images 1, 2, 3. See TTFF folder.

Tripping the Flash Fantastic Cyberlaunch
It’s storytime as the flyer says. I’m reading Judgement Day from Tripping The Flash Fantastic and then share a little of what led me to writing this story. Hope you enjoy. Oh and before I forget, as if I could (!)… TWO DAYS TO GO! Use the jpg download of the flyer AND from my TTFF drive on E drive the Judgement Day story OR use Dropbox to create a link as I did for CFT. Might be better to do that though may be worth trying to import video directly.

 

7th October
Such good fun to be on a mini blog tour at the moment. I was guest on #PatriciaMOsborne’s blog yesterday. Today I am on Jen Wilson’s blog (see my earlier post for the link). Next week I shall be on Val Penny’s one. And the two things the four of us have in common?
As well as being writers, we are all stalwarts of the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School. AND two of us are part of the renowned Prosecco Queens’ quiz team of said Summer School! (Image below is of me taking part in the Open Prose Mic Night at the School in 2019. Many thanks to #PennyBlackburn for the pic). Swanwick 2019 folder

Many thanks to #JenniferCWilson for hosting me on her blog today. It is always great fun to talk about flash fiction. Knowing Jennifer’s own love for history, it was particularly nice to discuss this aspect of my flash fiction writing with her here.
Flash fiction has the huge advantage of being character led and I can set those characters wherever and whenever I want. Great fun! But with Tripping The Flash Fantastic, for the first time, I have written historically based flash fiction. See the article for more about this but it is something I hope to do more of at some point.
Just to confirm the link for my launch event on Saturday can be found at https://www.facebook.com/events/1246876649024453

https://jennifercwilsonwriter.wordpress.com/2020/10/07/spotlight-allison-symes-tripping-the-flash-fantastic/

Tripping the Flash Fantastic Cyberlaunch
I’m on a mini blog tour at the moment with fellow stalwarts from the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School. It was a pleasure to chat yesterday with Patricia M Osborne on her blog. Today I chat with Jen Wilson on her blog at https://jennifercwilsonwriter.wordpress.com/2020/10/07/spotlight-allison-symes-tripping-the-flash-fantastic/
Next week I shall be on Val Penny’s blog and it has been great having slots ahead of the cyberlaunch and again just after it.
As I know Jen writes historical paranormal (do check out her Kindred Spirits series), my focus for this blog spot was on my historical flash stories in TTFF.
I’ve mentioned on my posts before that one thing I love about flash fiction is it has to be character-led. That means I can set those characters wherever and whenever I want!
For the first time with TTFF, I have set stories back in time. There are stories in here which are from the viewpoint of Richard III and Elizabeth of York for example, as well as my trademark “fairytales with bite” fiction.
All good fun to do and, of course, history is full of wonderful and not-so wonderful characters. This is an aspect of flash writing I hope to do more of in future.

SECOND POST
Time for a listen I think! I had the great joy of being a guest on #WendyHJones’ excellent podcast, The Writing and Marketing Show, earlier this year. My first time on a podcast, great fun to do, and no prizes for guessing what I talked about (though there is a huge hint below!).
Do check out Wendy’s show every Wednesday. All of the episodes are jam packed with tips and advice.
See https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/the-writing-and-marketing-show/e/67280384

 

From Light to Dark and Back Again – General

 

9th October
One of the challenges of any form of fiction writing is ensuring readers can tell your characters apart by the way they speak etc.
Now with flash fiction where I often focus on one character per story, that isn’t a problem as such.
Where the challenge DOES come in is ensuring that in a collection like From Light to Dark and Back Again and now Tripping the Flash Fantastic as well, the characters in the books as a WHOLE are nicely varied. Readers should be able to distinguish between the stories (and thus the characters).
It’s another reason why I like a good variety of mood and tone in my books as that helps with this aspect enormously.

8th October
Sometimes when I write my flash tales, I have the character in mind clearly and I then need to think of something for them to do! At other times I have the ideas of a situation to write about but need the right person to “fill” the role, so to speak. So this is why I jot down ideas for stories but also for characters.
Let’s say a competition theme is one of honesty. I could go one of two ways here – use an honest character and highlight the theme via them directly. Or I can use a dishonest character and contrast them with the honest situation. Both would work. It’s then down to me to decide which of the two characters I think is the strongest and I will then write their story up.

 

7th October
This week is going to be focused on my launch for Tripping the Flash Fantastic, of course, but I am looking forward to sharing a couple of readings from the new book.
How do I choose stories for reading for things like this or for Open Prose Mic Nights and the like? I try to go for a balance of mood. If I read a funny tale, I will read a darker one too. I also go for a balance of lengths too. If I read a 100-worder, I will also read a 250 or something that is a little longer than the first tale I read.
Above all, I try not to go on for too long. Recordings are best kept fairly short (as it effects download time etc). Also a short recording or reading makes it easier to keep your listener’s interest.
Pic below is of me reading at the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School’s Open Prose Mic Night (and there’s a phrase you don’t want to say quickly!). A huge thanks to #GeoffParkes for the pic. Swanwick 2018 folder

Fairytales With Bite – The Sting in The Tail
One of the joys of flash fiction writing, which is my big love, is it is a great form for twist in the tale endings. Also, as the form has to be character led, you can set those characters whenever and wherever you want. Your characters don’t have to be human either. I like all of that! One great thing about using non-human characters is you can use them to reflect aspects of us. Animal Farm by George Orwell does that brilliantly. (Definitely not flattering either).
The most effective stings in the tail are for me where:-
1. The character is an aggravating one and deserves whatever is coming to them!
2. You think a character you’re rooting for has little chance of winning and things change at the very last moment so that they do win out. (The classic fairytales often work on this basis. Think of Cinderella when the Prince insists that all of the women in the household have to try the glass slipper. Had the Prince not been so persistent….)
So think about how and where in your story you are going to place your sting. In my Calling The Doctor from From Light to Dark and Back Again, my sting is in the very last word. Do check it out on my book trailer for FLTDBA at https://www.facebook.com/fairytaleladyallisonsymes
I’ve also had fun with this technique for the trailer for my new book, Tripping The Flash Fantastic. See my landing page at https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com/ for more (and the trailer for FLTDBA is here too). Hope you enjoy the stories and do think about how you can make your sting have the maximum impact on a reader. Sometimes you can know the sting fairly early on. It is then a question of finding out whether the character deals with that sting in a good way or not and that can be fun too.

This World and Others – Conjuring Up Your World
What do you want readers to imagine when they read your stories? What aspects of your created world are the most important for them to read about and how can you convey that?

I’ve mentioned before it is often the telling detail placed in the right place in a story that has the maximum impact on a reader. I don’t necessarily need to know Character A lives in an “upside down” world. I do need to know Character A walks on what we would consider to be the sky and a brief showing of how that is done.

(For the characters that live in this world it would all be perfectly natural of course, but often a story changes dramatically when a stranger comes into the world and someone has to show them the ropes).

Readers need a sense that if your world were to exist somewhere, it could exist. That is your characters can find food, drink, shelter, there is some sort of government etc. You can unveil this a bit at a time and I can think of no better example to use than Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series. You find out more about how Ankh-Morpork is “run” as the series goes on. What he gives you in each story is enough for you to make sense of that story.

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Book Trailer and Blogging

Image Credit: All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.

It has been a busy couple of days on Facebook and Twitter and I share some tweets below relating to Tripping the Flash Fantastic, my latest flash fiction collection from Chapeltown Books. Of course, it will be hectic in the run-up to my cyberlaunch on Saturday 10th October 2020. Hope to see you there!

https://t.co/0W01RAz1iG Have been having some fun with Canva as I get ready for my book launch for Tripping the Flash Fantastic on Saturday.— Allison Symes (@AllisonSymes1) October 5, 2020

Join me today on #PatriciasPen with the lovely Allison Symes @AllisonSymes1 chatting about her writing. https://t.co/jyuIw4s9rM@CHINDIAuthors #IARTG#flashfiction#newrelease#writingcommunity#blog #Tuesdaytreat pic.twitter.com/6fjfQRHMTK— Patricia M Osborne (@PMOsborneWriter) October 6, 2020

Am thrilled to share my book trailer for Tripping The Flash Fantastic. Hope you enjoy. Cyberlaunch on Saturday 10th October between 7 pm and 9.30 pm UK time. pic.twitter.com/TY9CgVhoY7— Allison Symes (@AllisonSymes1) October 6, 2020

FacebookGeneral


Many thanks to the lovely Patricia M Osborne for hosting me on her blog today. It was great fun to take part!

I talk about Tripping the Flash Fantastic (of course!) and how I relished having input into the cover design. I also share how I become a flash fiction writer in the first place. All the details you need for my cyberlaunch are in this piece too.

Now a word to the wise: I will be setting a quiz during my cyberlaunch. Keep an eye out on what appears in my blog appearances this week including my own Chandler’s Ford Today post on Friday. It might prove useful and that’s all I’m saying for now!😊

Facebook – From Tripping The Flash Fantastic Cyberlaunch page

FOUR DAYS TO GO and another double bubble from me.

Firstly, a huge thanks to #PatriciaMOsborne for featuring me on her blog today. It was great fun to take part.

(Oh and I love the Queen of Flash Fiction title, says she blushing!😍😆).

Coming up very shortly…. my book trailer for Tripping The Flash Fantastic.

AND SECOND POST

I’ve been looking forward to sharing this since the weekend. Hope you enjoy my book trailer for Tripping The Flash Fantastic.

For anyone who didn’t see the poster a day or so ago, sorry. I suspect it was a formatting thing. The original poster was a pdf. This below is a jpeg file. Hope you like it (and you learn so much doing this kind of thing!)

FIVE DAYS TO GO

Hope your week has got off to a good start. Lady had a fab time today with her best buddy, a wonderful Rhodesian Ridgeback, and other pals in the park this morning. Think furry toddlers running around, stopping every so often for a drink, and then home for biscuits and rest. Very much like a trip to the day nursery for them! It was great to see them run.

Pleased to say I’ve now got the link for the Chat and Spin Radio Show. I was on Saturday night (3rd October 2020) and come in about the 7 minutes mark on the link below. Hope you enjoy. Link above and below.

See https://soundcloud.com/ian-johnson-75/saturday-3rd-october-saturday-weekend-show-909pm-1035pm-part-2

Just so you know, Chat And Spin Radio are an Internet Radio Station based in the UK. They broadcast to half a million UK & International Listeners per week 24/7. Their site is at www.chatandspinradio.com

Their blurb says they are looking for Writers, Artists, Illustrators, Bands & Singers and Charities to come on the Radio Station over the Phone or by Skype / Facebook for FREE PUBLICITY/PROMOTION to get out to their listeners.

The 10 Minute Live interview goes out on their Evening & Late Show. They broadcast that for 6 nights a week. Do see the site for more details.

For both of the occasions I’ve been on, I’ve found it paid to prepare something to say well in advance. I didn’t use all that I prepared but it did help me to focus on what was really important to get across. I found that so useful.

Facebook – From Tripping The Flash Fantastic Cyberlaunch page.

Double bubble from me on here tonight. As you’ll see from the post below I’ve been having fun with Canva!

Delighted to now share the link to my interview on Chat and Spin Radio on Saturday night. I am the first guest on Part 2 of their Saturday show and the interview starts at about the 7 minute mark.

Hope you enjoy – and tomorrow… the book trailer!

See https://soundcloud.com/ian-johnson-75/saturday-3rd-october-saturday-weekend-show-909pm-1035pm-part-2

FIVE DAYS TO GOFIVE DAYS TO GO (and see jpeg file above).

Due to tech issues I’ll have to share the link to my interview on Chat and Spin Radio tomorrow. Tech issues are the bane of us all! The interview was great fun and I look forward to being able to share that.

Meanwhile, I was on the show back in May and am delighted to repeat sharing the link for that here now. I come in at about the 27 minutes in mark. Hope you enjoy. (And I look forward to sharing what is effectively Part 2 tomorrow, hopefully!).

I am appearing on blogs in the next few days too and look forward to being able to share those as and when. Many thanks, all.

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Facebook – From Tripping The Flash Fantastic Cyberlaunch page

I plan to share snippets over the next few days in the run up to Saturday’s event. Hope you enjoy.

SIX DAYS TO GO TO CYBERLAUNCH

It’s going to be a busy few days in the run up to Saturday but hopefully a lot of fun too. I was interviewed on Chat and Spin Radio on Saturday night and I hope to share the link for that tomorrow.

I will be appearing on blogs over the next couple of weeks, before and after the launch, and am looking forward to sharing the links for those.

Things to look forward to then include:-

Sharing my book trailer.

Sharing a couple of stories during the next couple of days from Tripping The Flash Fantastic PLUS I talk about how I came to write these tales. (And I don’t know about you but I LOVE being read to so I hope you will enjoy my reading to you!).

Sharing a link to my podcast appearance on #WendyHJones‘ marvellous The Writing and Marketing Show. Do check this show out as there are some fab interviews on here and there is so much useful advice. I was on for Episode 4 naturally talking about all things flash fiction related.

Talking of which, over to you now. If you have questions about flash fiction, working with a small press and so on, do send them in.

Meanwhile, here is a taster of some of the work I do. This is Job Satisfaction from my debut collection, From Light to Dark and Back Again.


Interesting day. “Went” to the Association of Christian Writers’ event day via Zoom. Lovely to see a good attendance and great insights from the guest speakers.

Later this evening, I’ll be on Chat and Spin Radio. I hope to be able to share the link tomorrow.

And it is one week to go to my cyberlaunch for Tripping the Flash Fantastic. Should be a fun week!

Today was one of those rare days when I didn’t have to go out at all. Wasn’t sorry. Tipped it down for a lot of the day here. (Got a real soaking yesterday so think I had my fair share of the rain then!😊).

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Facebook – From Tripping The Flash Fantastic Cyberlaunch page

ONE WEEK TO GO TO CYBERLAUNCH! And I start the countdown for this week with a radio interview.

Delighted to chat to Ron on Chat and Spin Radio tonight. I was talking about what flash fiction and Tripping The Flash Fantastic (of course!). Looking forward to sharing the link tomorrow.

And I’ll be popping up on blogs over the next couple of weeks. Looking forward to sharing the links but keep an eye open for these. You may find the information in them useful for the quizzes I’ll be setting next week – and there will be prizes!

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

It was great fun taking part in #PatriciaMOsborne’s blog today.

I started writing flash fiction in 2013. Seven years and two books later (and a number of pieces in anthologies), I think it was a good move!😆😆😆

It was a delight to chat about flash fiction on Chat and Spin Radio on Saturday. Always happy to spread the word about the short word!😆😆

Am looking forward to sharing links to blogs I will be appearing on later this week. Am also looking forward to sharing the book trailer for Tripping the Flash Fantastic tomorrow too.

What does flash fiction writing mean to me? It means I’ve found a form of writing which means I have to invent characters all the time, which I love doing.

I have constantly changing situations too as one story might be 100 words long, another 500 or so. And the settings vary. For this new book, I’ve used time as a setting too and written historically based flash tales. I love the variety. The only restriction is not going above 1000 words and that’s fine with me!


I will be posting daily on the cyberlaunch page for Tripping The Flash Fantastic this week. The discussion page will include videos, links to interviews and blogs I am or will be appearing on. See https://www.facebook.com/events/1246876649024453/?active_tab=discussion for more.

And if you have questions about flash fiction or working with a small press, do send them in either during the week on at my launch on Saturday night.


I use all kinds of writing prompts to get me started on stories, especially for flash. I love the opening line kind most but picture prompts are useful and I occasionally use one of my own photos to inspire ideas.

And what is particularly nice is one of the prompts that came up during the cyberlaunch for From Light to Dark and Back Again, I actually did something with! That prompt became the story The Terrified Dragon which is in Tripping The Flash Fantastic.😊. Need to do that kind of thing more often I think!


Goodreads Author BlogBook Buying

Book buying is a habit. It’s a very good one!

I like to buy online and, of course from physical bookshops when I can get to them.

I like to buy at book launches (online or otherwise) and I usually ask for books for presents for Christmas and my birthday.

So nothing unusual there then. True but it’s getting into the book buying habit to begin with that matters, I think.

I’ve heard people moan about the price of books but what they forget is the hard work that goes into producing them.

They also forget that you can read a book you own as many times as you like. The same people often think nothing of spending much more on a meal out etc. (So I am puzzled as to why they moan about a book but they do and I’ve heard them – at a Book Fair too – argh!).

So I guess it is down to what you prioritise. Books are high up on my list and always will be!

Seasonal Books

Image Credit: All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.


Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

I talk about the types of book I read at certain times of year in this week’s CFT post. Which books do you save for particular times? Which can you read at any time? Comments as ever are most welcome on the CFT comments page.

Oh and happy reading!

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Further to my CFT post this week about seasonal books, do you write seasonally? Are there specific types of story you only write at certain times of year? Do the seasons help with your writing in an way?

I keep roughly to the same amount of time in writing throughout the year and see advantages to all of the seasons. The lighter evenings improve mood and that can help creativity. The darker evenings encourage me to spend more time at my desk writing so win-win there!

I have written Christmas based stories for both From Light to Dark and Back Again and now Tripping the Flash Fantastic. I can’t honestly remember what time of year I wrote them. I DO know it wasn’t at Christmas. I do take some time off around then for one thing. For another, I also sometimes submit these kind of flash stories to Cafelit and I like to get them in well ahead of time.

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It is always the characters I remember in well loved books, films etc. Sometimes I remember a killer line such as “You were only supposed to blow the bloody doors off” from The Italian Job. But mainly it is the characters I recall. Why?

I suppose it’s because most writers, including me, are interested in what makes people tick. We need to understand motivations so we can give our own characters credible ones readers will latch onto and accept (even if they loathe the characters themselves. Mind you, there is nothing to beat booing at a “good” villain now, is there?!).

And people watching will spark off ideas for characters and stories. I’ve used the colour of someone’s hat that I liked amongst other things. And, of course, there is the old favourite of overhearing something, always out of context incidentally, but wondering what would make YOUR characters come out with something like that. (This is especially true if what you hear is funny!).

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Am busily preparing a book trailer for Tripping the Flash Fantastic as well as finishing off blog pieces to submit. All good fun!

It’s always interesting being on the receiving end of questions, by the way. I love interviewing other authors for Chandler’s Ford Today but it is always fun to be quizzed myself. The best questions always encourage an interviewee to expand. The worst kind are those where you’ll only get a Yes/No answer.

I’ve mentioned before the idea of interviewing your characters as it helps you outline your “people” and you get a better idea of what they are capable of before you write their story. Pretty much the same applies here – again ask your characters interesting questions. Make them talk!

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Just a quick reminder I’ll be on Chat and Spin Radio talking about the joys of flash fiction tomorrow night, 3rd October, at about 9.15 pm.

Also just over a week to go to my cyberlaunch for Tripping the Flash Fantastic. Hope to see you “there”. And if you have questions about flash fiction, do send them in on the night.

Flash is a fantastic form to write and to read and well worth celebrating. It is also my hope it can be used to draw in the reluctant reader to the wonderful world of books.

Focusing on what really matters is important to any kind of writing but the spotlight is turned up a LOT when your word count is DOWN! But the benefits of that are you have a more intense story precisely because it is short and the impact on a reader can be stronger too.

Screenshot_2020-10-02 Tripping The Flash Fantastic Cyberlaunch Facebook

Flash shows you a very brief moment in time for a character but oh what a moment! And that’s the whole point. That moment must be something truly transforming for the character. It doesn’t have to be in a good way either.

In Tripping The Flash Fantastic, in my story Understanding, I used a narrator showing the reader something about another character’s life. Liked the way this worked and I hope to do more of this in future. Seeing something through someone else’s eyes can shed a whole new perspective on things and that can be true for fiction too.

BONUS POST. Two bits of late news, as they say.
1. I’ll be on Chat and Spin Radio this coming Saturday, 3rd October to chat about Tripping the Flash Fantastic. I’ll be on at about 9.15 pm and will share the link with the interview later.

2. I’ve finally got around to creating a story for me on Facebook.


Wet Wednesday here. Lady not overly impressed. I was even less impressed. Still, one good thing about bad weather, is it makes getting back to a nice warm room to get on with some writing even more appealing!

Delighted to share part of another review for Tripping the Flash Fantastic. Many thanks to “Fish Lady” for:-

Allison’s stories always make you stop and think a little – there is something slightly off-centre in the way her characters see the world, and she switches effortlessly from humorous tales to stories with a harder bite. A real treat for readers who enjoy being taken on a mystery tour.

It’s always great to know when your stories impact on readers positively. And a huge encouragement to keep on writing.

The writing life is full of ups and downs and the encouragements help enormously when things are on the down side.

This is another reason I like writing flash fiction I think. I can produce something fairly quickly and submit it. I don’t have to wait too long for results and, if they’re positive, it ends up being that I receive a steady stream of encouragements. And that helps so much.


Fairytales with Bite – Transformations

Transformations are a classic part of fairytales. I wonder what the rats who became footmen remembered when they became rats again! And how easy did they find becoming bipeds when usually they were quadrupeds? Did the spell on them take away all thought of what they had been? Hmm…

Transformations can often be for good, of course, but not always. Sometimes they can be questionable. I doubt if the fairy godmother in Cinderella would have won any prizes for the humane treatment of animals given her transformation of the rats. They had been quite happy being rats after all!

All stories do need some sort of transformation. There has to be a change for there to be any story at all.

Whether you make that transformation good, evil, or questionable will depend so much on (a) you and your personal tastes and (b) your characters.

The transformation must be true to the character though always. If someone evil is going to transform into something better (and you define what that better is!), then you do need to show that character as at least having second thoughts about their behaviour in the run up to that transformation. It will make the transformation more realistic for your readers and they will be more willing to believe it.

The only place things happen by magic is in the fairytales and even in Cinderella you have the situation where the godmother has to look around for things to use. That is a signal to the reader that something is about to change.

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This World and Others – Reflections

Do your characters ever reflect on their actions and if so, how? You generally don’t want monologues here but a character wondering about a course of action is a character showing signs of self-doubt, vulnerability even, and that is likely to appeal to a reader. Certainly readers will understand it. We all have those moments after all.

Does your world reflect this one or have you set up something totally different? (Even the latter can be a reflection of life here to an extent!).
What would you like your characters and/or world to reflect? This could be anything from what you would like them/you to be or they could be the opposite to you and you use your stories as chances to see how things would play out.

Have fun! But a story that makes readers reflect on what they would do if they were in your character’s shoes is a story that is making an impact and that is always good.#

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Preparing An (Online) Party

Image Credit:  Pixabay/Pexels unless stated. Book cover image from Chapeltown Books.

Image of Val Penny giving a wonderful talk at Swanwick Writers’ Summer School kindly provided by her and used in previous CFT posts.

Images of Gill James and Dawn Knox also provided by them respectively and again used in CFT posts.

Many thanks also to Penny Blackburn for her picture of me reading at the 2019 Open Prose Mic Night at Swanwick Writers’ Summer School.

Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

Many thanks to everyone who has already reviewed Tripping the Flash Fantastic and/or has shown support for my cyberlaunch. Very much appreciated. (Further down I share a link to a wonderful review on Val Penny’s Book Review Blog and I hope to share further reviews in due course).

No prizes for guessing why I wrote this piece for CFT this week! See link below (and I do like the way this aspect of the new WordPress works).

My CFT post this week is all about that launch with all relevant details included, BUT I also go on to talk about the advantages of this kind of event. I also share some thoughts on how people can support their writer friends. Hope you enjoy.

Preparing An (Online) Party

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Also, just a quick reminder about the author event I am taking part in tomorrow afternoon, with Gill James and Dawn Kentish Knox. Would be good to see you “there”!

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It has been a good day. Delighted to get off in the post copies of Tripping the Flash Fantastic to someone I know who has been waiting for the book to come out almost as much as I have! So first sales – yippee!

Did I mind going round to the Post Office in a mask for that one? Not a bit! (Got a sneaky bit of advertising in while I was there too. You know how they always ask you what is in the parcel…. well I told them!).😆😆

Also delighted to see the latest review for Tripping the Flash Fantastic is now up on Val Penny’s Book Review Blog. Many thanks, Val. (It is particularly nice to see the covers for both of my books forming part of this review).

My Chandler’s Ford Today post this week will be about my cyberlaunch for Tripping the Flash Fantastic. All the necessary details will be there but I’ll also be sharing thoughts on the advantages of having launches this way.

There are several advantages (and not just for the writer either. Events like this can be huge fun for the audience and I love attending the ones my writer pals hold for this reason. A good event should be entertaining. The idea is to engage with an audience and, yes, hopefully generate book sales but engaging with the audience is SO important. The event has to be fun for them as well as for you.).

I’ll also discuss how readers can make a huge difference in supporting their writer friends holding this kind of event. Link up on Friday.

And just a quick reminder that #GillJames and #DawnKentishKnox and I will be on Zoom this coming Saturday between 3 and 4 pm discussing our works. There will be stories. There will be giveaways. Hope to see you at both events! Should be fun!

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

For both the author event I’m involved with tomorrow and my cyberlaunch on 10th October, I am particularly looking forward to is reading out some of my flash fiction. Flash works excellently for this kind of thing as it is short and to the point and I’ve always loved being read to! Hope you enjoy that too.

I read work out loud regularly as it helps me to literally hear how the story flows. If I trip over words while reading, then I know readers will, so I can correct that. I sometimes record and play back too (usually for longer pieces) and that is also helpful.

Have a lovely time with your reading and/or writing this weekend!



I’ve mentioned before that flash, despite the word count limit, has more flexibility than you might think. Not only can you vary the word count you choose to write to (up to 1000 maximum of course), you can vary the genre of flash story you write.

In both FLTDBA and now Tripping the Flash Fantastic, I have deliberately exploited that. I’ve written crime tales, historical ones, fantasy ones, and so on. I’ve also varied the format of my flash tales. In TTFF there are stories told in poetic form. I’m working on linked flash stories for what I hope will end up being my third collection eventually.

I like to mix up the way I approach a flash story because it keeps things interesting for me and it makes me “up my game”. It’s not a bad thing for a writer to be kept on their toes. Indeed I’ve found it helps my flex my imaginative “muscles” and the more you use those, the more you find you CAN use them.

That is one reason to write regularly. Naturally you need to read regularly too to help feed that imaginative muscle too. We are all inspired by the stories that have come before us. It would be nice to think later others will be inspired by the stories we’re writing now.

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I love that moment when I know I’ve got a character “set” and ready to go. It means I know what makes them tick and, whether I then put them into a funny story or a darker one, I know they will “rise to the occasion”.

For me, a story of whatever length is always about the character. It’s their story. It is them I want to find out about. (Mind you, I am a curious soul like that!).

That doesn’t mean plot is irrelevant. Far from it but you do have to have a “cast” who can get the most out of the plot you devise for them.

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Fairytales With Bite – Magic in Words

A good story has a magic all of its own. It will make you forget the cares of this world for a while and take you into the created world the writer has set up for you. This is why a story that is written “just” for entertainment should not be looked down on in my view. Helping people escape for a while through stories is a wonderful thing to do. And stories inspire people, which is another reason to love tales of all kinds.

So there is magic in the words we write then but for me, as you know, it is all down to the character. They have got to draw you in and one of my favourite ways of doing this is to ensure a reader HAS to find out something about said character.

That can mean showing the reader a character’s obvious flaw and the hook here is to see what that flaw does to that character during the story. If my character is a bossy boots, how does that flaw get in their way to achieving their objective? Does the character realise the need to change and how do they do it? There is the story. A reader has got to be curious enough to want to read on. So always think about what your hook is going to be. (And that’s a good marketing tip too!).

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This World and Others – Advantages of Using An Alien Setting

A number of my flash stories in From Light to Dark and Back Again and Tripping the Flash Fantastic involve alien worlds to a certain extent. Due to the restricted word count with flash, I can’t show a lot of the settings, but I can imply such an alien world in few well chosen words.

For example in my story, Job Vacancy, I start with the words “Wanted: Wizard’s Assistant”. Now that tells you immediately, the story has to be set in a magical world and your imagination can conjure up (pun intended!) what that might look like while I get on and show you the rest of the wizard’s job advert!

In The Terrified Dragon in TTFF, I have arranged things so said terrified dragon is surrounded by angry humans right at the start of the story. Now that means this story could be set on an Alternative Earth where dragons existed. Or we go right back in time right here on the planet we know and love where dragons could have existed. I leave that to the reader decide while I again get on and show you what happens to the dragon.

With alien settings which are either directly spelled out or implied, that gives me freedom to suspend some rules. If my story is not set here but on some strange planet at the back of beyond, then maybe that is a place where gravity doesn’t exist or the sky is coloured British Racing Green. People accept all of that and more as long as it is clear from the outset that the world is alien to what we know and, as a writer, I can have a lot of fun with that.

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And once again, thanks to Val Penny for a fab review of Tripping the Flash Fantastic.  See screenshot for more.

Screenshot_2020-09-25 Tripping the Flash Fantastic eBook Symes, Allison Amazon co uk Kindle Store

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Hot Weather, Reading, and Missing Swanwick

Image Credit:  All images via Pixabay and/or Pexels unless stated otherwise.

Facebook – General

Today has felt odd. Why? It’s because I should’ve been at the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School for the next few days, catching up with old friends, learning so much from the talks and after dinner speakers etc. Am missing everyone but can’t wait to be back there next year. It really can’t come around quickly enough!

Meanwhile, back in very, very hot Hampshire, I am cracking on with editing work and CFT interviews. I’m also working on my long term non-fiction project. Though I have the nasty feeling my laptop with its wonderful fan is probably feeling cooler than I am right now!😀😀

 

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Another night where my laptop (with its fab stand and inbuilt fan) is far cooler than I am. Mind you, not that I have ever had any claims to be cool!

I was chatting earlier with a writing chum via email about backing up your work at regular intervals. I lost an evening’s work once thanks to a power cut! I was about to back everything up and shut the PC down for the night when the cut happened and I just wanted to scream.

Fortunately, with power back on, I could recall a lot of what I’d written and typed up as much as I could remember as quickly as possible. I took the view that whatever I could not recall, I would at least get the gist of from what I had typed up and so it proved.

Lesson learned! I now back up every 20/25 minutes or so to memory stick, hard disk, and cloud. I’m not getting caught that way again.

Worth the hassle of backing up nigh on continuously? Oh yes! For the peace of mind alone, it’s worth it.

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Still sweltering in sunny Hampshire. Am grateful Lady is not frightened of thunder. That may come in useful later in the week. Dilemmas of a middle-aged woman Part 1: am I having a hot flush or is it just the ruddy temperature outside? Hmm…

Hope you had a fab weekend. Saw family which was lovely. Glad to be at my desk after a hectic Monday. Now have second fan in the office going at full tilt so, what with my laptop having its own (via its stand), and my other one, some fresh air is being generated. But will be very grateful when the weather cools down (as will Lady). Can’t say the hot weather does much for my productivity though I do find myself singing “Just One Cornetto” to the tune of O Sole Mio when the latter is played on Classic FM! Those of you of a certain age will know why!

Looking forward to sharing a very special interview on Friday. Will have a humorous piece up on Cafelit later in the week too. Flash fiction is great to read at Open Prose Mic Nights as I did last year at Swanwick. Doesn’t take long and a punchline ending usually goes down well at events like that. Hope to do this again next year. (Many thanks to #PennyBlackburn for taking the pic of me reading at last year’s Swanwick. The others were taken by me last year).

Many congratulations to #PaulaReadman on her launch of her debut novel, Stone Angels, today.

Publication day is always a very special moment. It’s just a pity you can’t bottle up the way it makes you feel so you can uncork it again at times when you need a bit of a boost!

Behind the scenes of any publication, there is a lot of hard work. There is a quote about swans which says they look serene but underneath the water their legs are paddling hard to keep them going. Well, pretty much the same is true for writers!

We paddle hard when we write our first drafts, edit them, send those stories out in to the big, bad world, and then cope with rejections. Does it end there? No! You look at your story again, improve what can be improved and submit to more publishers. You always seek to improve what you do. You keep on writing. You keep on editing.

So yes there’s an awful lot of paddling going on!

But publication day? That’s the well earned serene bit (and so richly deserved by the author too!). (The first two images below are of Paula and her debut novel and kindly supplied by Paula for my recent CFT series on The Writing Game – and What to Watch For).

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Phew, it’s hot! I don’t use the weather much in any of my stories, partly because I would find it hard to avoid cliche. (It was a dark and stormy night, anyone? Mind you, I do love the Peanuts cartoons that have Snoopy writing and using that as one of “his” lines!).

In my flash fiction, with the limited word count, I have to work out what is vital for readers to know. The weather is rarely amongst vital details! I can imply it though. If I get a character to wear a raincoat, that would be enough for a reader to realise the weather was likely to be wet without me spelling it out further.

And this is one of the things I love about flash. It encourages the writer to use implication and I know as a reader I love being able to work things out for myself.

 

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I hope to share a cover reveal for Tripping the Flash Fantastic in due course. Will keep you posted.

As with From Light to Dark and Back Again, I hope to have a cyberlaunch and again will flag up details. I’ve “been” to a few cyberlaunches now and they are all great fun. You do feel drained afterwards but in a good way!

Best ways to support author friends then – no real surprises here but all of these things ARE appreciated!

1. Pop along to their cyber (or other kinds) of book launch and be the friendly face offering support.

2. If you’ve read the book concerned, please, please, please review it on Amazon and Goodreads. It doesn’t have to be a long review either.

3. For a cyberlaunch, someone asking useful questions helps get the discussions going. and encourages others to join in. Think along the lines of helping the author to talk about what made them write the book, what inspired their characters etc. Writers love talking about that kind of thing.

4. Share their posts/tweets etc.

And when launches are possible again in book shops etc., standing your author friend a cup of tea after the event will always go down well!😊

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When I’m reading stories, what am I looking for first and foremost? Well no surprises here when I say the character has got to grip me. If they don’t, I’m unlikely to be reading their story to its conclusion.

But how can you make a character grip an unknown reader? There is no single answer to that but what helps is:-

1. Ensuring your character has an absolute right to have their story told. What do I mean by that? From a reading viewpoint, a reader shouldn’t be able to imagine the story WITHOUT your character.

2. As well as having a reason for being, the character has to have an understandable and strong enough motivation to see the challenges of the story through to a satisfactory conclusion. (Doesn’t necessarily have to be a happy one. The character’s motivation doesn’t necessarily need to be entirely virtuous either. I can understand a character who steals to provide for someone else, say. It doesn’t mean I approve of stealing – I don’t! – but you get the gist).

3. There has to be a point of change. Something has GOT to happen and it has to be vitally important to the character.

4. There have to be obstacles in the character’s way, including other characters who have got good reasons of their own to block Character A.

Getting that right takes time and practice but makes for cracking stories!

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The fan in the office is probably working harder than I am right now… I may’ve mentioned I don’t like the heat much!😀😀

(Lady is fine and keeping cool. For a young dog, who is generally as daft as the proverbial brush, she’s sensible on this which has come as a relief to us and fortunately we are surrounded by trees so lots of shade).

One thing I like about flash is I can draft a story (100 to 250 words, my favourite) in about 15 minutes. It will need a lot of editing to get it into shape, but that’s okay. What’s nice about this is on those days when I know I haven’t got a lot of time, I know exactly how I’ll be spending those pockets of time which might otherwise go to waste.

Yep, drafting flash fiction stories ready for submission later on. And knowing I’ve got a story down ready for working on later always makes me feel better. (Unlike this wretched heat…!).

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Goodreads Author Blog – Reading In Hot Weather

Currently in the UK as I write this (8th August 2020), most of the country is experiencing a heatwave (30+degrees C).

Yes, yes, I know! I can think of several places where that would be considered to be on the cold side!).

But give me the fact most of us here are finding it hot!

So do you find it easier to read in hot weather, given most of us are not going to feel like doing that much?

Or do you find it harder to read because what you really want is to cool off and reading in itself isn’t going to do that?

Or do you welcome reading because it’s a great distraction from feeling too hot?

I find it easier to read magazines and the shorter form of fiction when I’m finding the weather a bit much. Now is not the time to tackle War and Peace I think!

So over to you then! What do you prefer to read when the thermometer is on the crazy side? What would you recommend?

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Cyberlaunches, The End, and Flash Fiction

Image Credit:  As ever, Pixabay, unless otherwise stated. (Images of The Hayes, Swanwick were taken by Allison Symes)

It has been a fun few days as I was one of the co-hosts for Patricia M Osborne’s cyberlaunch of her second novel, The Coal Miner’s Son. What follows is a kind of a report on that. Many thanks to Patricia for inviting me to take part. It was great fun – as a good launch should be!

Facebook – General

I’m looking forward to taking part in #PatriciaMOsborne‘s cyberlaunch for her second novel, The Coal Miner’s Son, tomorrow evening. (I interviewed Patricia as part of my CFT series on What Books Mean To Me a while back and I have guested on her website as part of her blog and her 100 word challenge. We are both also huge fans of Swanwick Writers’ Summer School, not least because we met there).

This is the follow up to her debut book, House of Grace. Obviously more on that tomorrow but very best of luck, Patricia, and hope you have an absolute ball with your launch.

I had a great deal of fun with mine for From Light to Dark and Back Again. Cyberlaunches are a fab opportunity to celebrate books and support writer friends. Always worth dropping by!

One of the loveliest things about the writing community is it is so supportive and launches, cyber or otherwise, bring that out. And best of all they are fun!

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Many thanks to #PatriciaMOsborne for inviting me to take part in her launch of her second novel, The Coal Miner’s Son. This follows her debut novel, The House of Grace.

A very good time was had by all at the launch and the lovely thing about online launches is that the calories in the cakes and drinks provided simply don’t count!😆

I am planning to hold a cyberlaunch for my second flash fiction collection, Tripping the Flash Fantastic, when that is out later this year. Preparation is crucial for you as the writer to get the most out of it I think. It helped me to relax into the event and get a real party feel going.

(And it WAS a wonderful party at Patricia’s launch tonight too!).

Launches are important for the obvious reason of getting the news of our books out there, but they also help a writer to have fun with their book after all their hard work in writing and editing it.

Cheers to that!

And congratulations, #PatriciaMOsborne, for a wonderful launch for The Coal Miner’s Son. (I love that cover! Do check out the link to Patricia’s Amazon page, given above, to find out why I love it!).

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I always feel a sense of relief when I write The End for a flash fiction or short story. (I should imagine the sense of relief for a novelist is proportionately larger depending on their text length!).

I do know the hard work is shortly going to begin with the editing but there is that moment when you know you’ve got something to work with and that’s nice. It shouldn’t be unappreciated either. You have finished the first draft.

The great thing is nobody but you has to ever see that first draft. I know from mine what a good thing that is!

For competition entries, I always take at least a week (and usually a fortnight) off the official deadline to ensure I have time for any final tweaks and still get the piece off in good time.

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Hope to draft some flash pieces on my train trip to Birmingham today for an Association of Christian Writers’ event. It is a great form to draft on a smartphone!

The only thing I make sure of is to put plenty of story prompts on Evernote before I travel so I have more than enough to write up.

If I ever forget to do that, I brainstorm opening lines and then write them up. Of course sometimes what I think will be opening lines make far better closing ones, but it’s fun to find that out!

When I started writing short stories, I nearly always used the third person. For flash fiction, I still use that, but I’ve developed a great love for using first person. I love its immediacy. I can tak you right into a character’s head and I have my narrator for the story literally to hand.

Flash, due to its brevity, means you can’t have too many characters as you’d quickly fall foul of word count requirements.

For example, if you want three characters in the story, you’ve got to have at least one good reason for all three to be in there. How many words will you use to get those good reasons in?! And even if you manage that well enough, what room have you got left for the actual story after all of that?

So using the first person is a handy technique but that is all it should be. I make myself mix up first and third person usage to avoid falling into the trap of all of my stories sounding the same.

Good reasons to get a writing event if you can and that includes online events (so travel is not a problem!):-

1. You will make writing friends who will totally understand your addiction to writing (and it IS an addiction). They also celebrate your successes and commiserate with your woes and that is vital. The writing community is precisely that, a community. We take the “no man is an island” bit seriously!

2. Said writing pals will tell you about competitions and markets you had not heard of as no one person can know everything that’s out there. You will also share useful news on similar lines to them.

3. You will get a lot from the courses and talks you go to as well!

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Book trailers were completely new to me until Chapeltown Books produced the excellent one for From Light to Dark and Back Again. Yes, I know I’m biased… (am not sorry, so there!).

Flash is a great vehicle for book trailers since as a form it can fit into a trailer beautifully and give a useful free sample to potential readers. I prefer using the 100 words or under for this.

A sample of my flash fiction work. Job Satisfaction was first published in From Light to Dark and Back Again by Chapeltown Books in 2017.

 

Goodreads Author Blog – Book Stalls at Writing Events

I love writing events anyway but I particularly enjoy having a good nose around book stalls/book rooms at these things. Wild horses wouldn’t keep me away and all that…

It’s always a joy to see works by friends, as well as my own, on these stalls too. But they also prove to be good opportunities to have a look at works and authors new to you.

So go on, at the next event you go to as a writer, put your reader’s hat on too and see what you can find. Explore reading avenues new to you as well as enjoying favourite genres.

And for non-writers, one of the best ways to support author friends is to go to their events. The great thing is you are likely to come back with your next good read too! And that is always a good thing!😊