Book Festivals, Inventing Characters, and Going Home

Image Credit:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes.
Many thanks also to Sarah Archibald for the Brechin/Angus Book Festival materials – it is a joy to share them!

Facebook – General

Absolutely shattered last night after getting home from Scotland but it was an enjoyable trip and I have to say I liked LNER. I’ve not travelled with them before but liked the trains. Also impressed with very high standard of cleanliness – and a charging point at every seat. Great idea.

Am getting back to my usual writing routine (though whether I’ll get around to a YouTube video and/or submission to Friday Flash Fiction this week remains to be seen). I will be getting my author newsletter for December ready soon though (and you can sign up for that at my website landing page at https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com).

Looking forward to the next event – the Bridge House Publishing celebration on 4th December. Will be so good to meet up with friends again there too and catch up with what everyone has been doing.

Heading home from the Brechin/Angus Book Festival and enjoying great scenic views on the way as I travel through Scotland and a fair bit of England too. Had a lovely time.

It was great catching up with friends from the Association of Christian Writers and meeting new people. Some of us have a regular meet up on Zoom. This was the “live” version in many ways!

A huge thanks to Wendy H. Jones for being a fab hostess and organising all that needed to be organised, and to Sarah Archibald and her team behind the festival.

Looking forward now to being back at home with my family and Lady. Reports tell me she has been checking my side of the bed every night to see if I’d somehow sneaked back home while she was not looking! Not a chance even if I did have access to a portal etc. The postie only has to put one foot in the drive before she tells us about it!

In other news as they say, I look forward to sharing Part 2 of a great interview with Lynn Clement, whose The City of Stories was recently published by Chapeltown Books. This week we discuss the editing process – Chapeltown has a vigorous three stage plan for this. I had the privilege of editing Lynn on this and I look forward to sharing the link on Friday.

Had a lovely workshop session at the second day of the Brechin/Angus Book Festival. It was great to share ways into flash fiction and read some of my stories. That does two things – it shows what flash is and hopefully entertains the listener.

Later I gave a talk on The Ups and Downs of Becoming An Author where I talked about my circular route into becoming a published author. All good fun and many thanks to those who came to listen.

It has been particularly nice to meet new people and get chatting about books and stories.

Lovely to be at the Brechin/Angus Book Festival. It’s wonderful to see lots of lovely books (and equally lovely authors) out and about again.  

There is a great contingent from the Association of Christian Writers here. So shout-out to Wendy H Jones, Maressa Mortimer, Ruth Leigh, Heather Flack, Tony Collins, and Sheila Robinson (writes as S.C. Skillman).

Also lovely to meet in person those I’ve only met on Facebook and/or Zoom

Have also taken part in my first professional photo shoot with the other authors. All of us held up our latest book with pride! Great fun. Will appear in The Angus Courier next Thursday.

Book stall all set up to go at The Northern Hotel, Brechin

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

I’ve mentioned before my love of using random generators to help trigger different story ideas. I’m convinced these work because they force you to think outside of your usual creative box. You are being set a prompt to work to after all by something that has not come from you.

But don’t forget you can get even more from these by changing the parameters for these things. For example, for the random word ones, I often choose to generate just two words but there’s no reason why I can’t pick far more than that.

I’ve found using two will often give me a title and, yes, it can be easier to fit two words into a story rather than ten or so but that’s precisely the reason to change the parameters! It encourages you to think about how you can get these ten words into the story so it makes sense, adds to the character or the plot in some way etc.

Stretching yourself like that is a good thing. I’ve come up with more stories as a result of experimenting with parameters like this.

It was a pleasure to read from my flash collections at my workshop and tallk over the weekend at the Brechin/Angus Book Festival.

Doing this shows what flash is and the impact it can have so effectively. I just tailor which stories I read to suit the audience. I also like a balance of tales to make people smile and others that trigger other responses (such as a twist ending for a crime story, say).

I don’t read the same tales at every event (though I do have my own favourites I will often use).

Last day of the Brechin/Angus Book Festival and it has been fabulous to talk about flash fiction, sharing what I love about the form. As I mentioned yesterday, it is the continual inventing of characters I find the most fun. It is also the most challenging but it keeps me on my toes!

Writing flash fiction has meant I get to do what I love most – invent characters. Even more fun can be had because those characters don’t have to be human.

Why do I love inventing characters? Simply because they are fun to “play with”.Characters give me ways in which to explore motivations and what anyone might do in any given situation when under duress or where normal expectations don’t exist or are challenged.

How a character reacts is something that fascinates me. And with flash I get to do this over and over again.The joy of my two collections – From Light to Dark and Back Again and Tripping the Flash Fantastic – is I can reflect a number of scenarios and settings and that is also fun.

Goodreads Author Blog – Advertising Books

The best advertising for books is word-of-mouth. If someone I know tells me about a book I am more likely to sit up and take notice.

But getting awareness of available books out there is difficult.No author wants to come across as too pushy (instant turn-off for potential readers). But you equally can’t be too shy and retiring.

What I have found helps me is having a brief spiel prepared covering what flash fiction is (my main genre), why I love writing it, and then I go into my two collections. Often I’ll read from them too.

And readers do need to know the stories are out there. This is where book festivals and fairs can play a major role. So if you can support them, do. You will get to see potential good reads new to you and you support books in general as well as the authors.

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Cyberlaunch News – Tripping The Flash Fantastic

Image Credit:  Pixabay/Pexels unless stated. Book cover images for Tripping the Flash Fantastic by Chapeltown Books. Picture of very happy author by said author’s husband! Screenshot by Allison Symes

Facebook – General

Goodreads profile and Amazon Author Central pages updated. See Goodreads screenshot.
 
(The books shown are the most recent for me except Alternative Renditions which is where I had my first story published, A Helping Hand, way back in 2009. Is it me or does that seem like a world away now?! That Bridge House anthology will always have a special place in my heart! You always remember your first time as they say….!!).
 
Also delighted to share here an interview Gill James has put up on her Goodreads page with yours truly. I chat about the Waterloo Festival Writing Competition held earlier this year AND there is an excerpt from my winning story, Books and the Barbarians. Hope you enjoy and many thanks to Gill.
 
And as a bonus, I’m sharing again here the video I made for the Waterloo Festival where there is a further extract from Books and the Barbarians.
 
– Allison Symes – Waterloo Festival 2020 video.
 
Screenshot_2020-09-19 Author Dashboard
So thrilled at the first two reviews for Tripping The Flash Fantastic. A lovely way to go into the coming week.
 
Am hoping to share news of my cyberlaunch later on in the week PLUS am looking forward to taking part in the event on Saturday with Gill James and
Dawn Kentish Knox. Will re-share the link during the week. Have also decided to share it further down the page.
 
Now waiting with eager anticipation for MY order of the book to come in. You don’t lose the buzz of opening a box to discover your creation inside it! You don’t WANT to lose the buzz etc…
 
I only wish I could bottle that feeling for those days when you feel the world IS out to get you and we all get days like that…
 
Hope the week proves to be a good one!
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Facebook – General – and Cyberlaunch News

Two pieces of news tonight. Firstly, I’m thrilled at another lovely review for Tripping the Flash Fantastic.
 
My reviewer singled out two particular stories – The Cake Bake and The Pink Rose and the latter is one of my favourites. It is also a tribute to someone special and I hope to be talking more about this during my cyberlaunch.
 
Talking of which, the second piece of news is I now have set up an online event for Tripping the Flash Fantastic.
 
Date: Saturday 10th October 2020
Time: 7 pm to 9.30 pm
Venue: Wherever you are with your laptop, phone, I-Pad etc!
 
Hope to see you there.
 

Screenshot_2020-09-22 (2) Tripping The Flash Fantastic Cyberlaunch Events Facebook(1)

And naturally it was time for the first picture and post to go up on the discussion page on the TTFF events page.

The first post had to be this one really. The moment every writer lives for I think. (Apologies for the hair – I swear sometimes it has a life of its own. Hmm… there’s a story in that somewhere!).😀

One very happy author

As you may well have seen from my first post on the TTFF cyberlaunch page earlier (see above!), I received my copies of the book today. Such a wonderful moment.
 
But a lot of work goes into that moment, both from the writer’s and publisher’s end of things. So is it important to cherish the special moments? Oh yes.
 
The writer’s life is full of ups and downs and you do get used to that. You become more resilient too, which is no bad thing. But I’ve found you appreciate the special moments more too and that is also good.
 
My first published flash story was A Study in Magic on Cafelit back in 2013. See http://cafelitcreativecafe.blogspot.com/…/A%20Study…
 
I’ve come a long way since then and that is exactly how it should be.
 
Writing is good for you precisely because it encourages you to keep pushing yourself and, even when you have found the exact genre you want to write in for ever and ever amen, you still want to be improving on what you do all the time.
 
Well. that’s how it has been for me to date and I hope that continues for a very long time. (For once, I’ve found a justified reason to use the word “very”. Very is one of my usual suspects of wasted words which usually are cut out!).

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

I’ll be sharing a couple of stories from Tripping the Flash Fantastic on the Zoom event on Saturday 26th September. I always love reading aloud and being read to so am also looking forward to listening to stories from #gilljames and #dawnkentishknox. See the link below.
 
 
The event is free, there will be giveaways too, but you do need to register.
 
Also bring along questions. Gill, Dawn, and I look forward to seeing you “there”!
What is my favourite kind of character?
 
I like one who can stand up for themselves.
 
I love humorous characters who can laugh at themselves as well as at the situations they find themselves in and, even more so, when the trouble they’re in is of their own making.
 
I like a character to have some “fire in their belly” (which is why I can’t get on with Jane Austen’s heroine in Mansfield Park – far too wishy-washy for me. Elizabeth Bennet is a very different matter!).
 
I like characters who show me something of themselves and can still surprise me. I always appreciate wit and irony.
 
I like characters who know right from wrong and don’t tolerate evil. It’s why I’ve always been a huge fan of the fairytales, I guess.
 
Having said that, I can and do have a soft spot for a villain if I can see why they are the way they are. I don’t like villainy for its own sake. There has to be “just cause” behind it even if it is only just to the villain.

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Sent off book order for Tripping the Flash Fantastic✔️
 
Sent off order to well known print company for various goodies.✔️
 
First reviews in for TTFF. ✔️
 
Delighted I’ve found the tick emoji, finally! ✔️✔️✔️
 
I will be reading a couple of my stories from my new book at the event on Saturday. Gill James and Dawn Kentish Knox will be sharing from their work too.
 
Looking forward to reading a couple of selections from mine and listening to what Gill and Dawn share. Will put the link up again later in the week. Is available now further up the page!
 
One joy in the book production process when working with an indie press is in working out what the book cover should be with my publisher. There IS an art in getting the image right.
 
Appropriately for a flash collection, I wanted an image that would conjure up the essence of my book in one picture. It took a while for both of my books to get this exactly right but it was so worth it.
 
Both FLTDBA and TTFF have covers I will always be proud of. Why does that matter? Well, firstly as a writer, you do have to like your own books. If you don’t, why should anyone else? Also you will be promoting so you should be proud of the product!
 
A book’s cover should entice you into reading it after all. It is the first advert for the book. And not every big name author has been pleased with the covers they’ve had for theirs. One of my favourite quotes from P.G. Wodehouse said “God may forgive …………………. for the cover of …………….. but I never shall!”. Hmm…
 
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Delighted to see this on the Waterstones site. Looking forward to seeing Tripping the Flash Fantastic on there too in due course!

Flash fiction can be set in any setting you choose but don’t forget you can also go forwards and backwards in time too. I’ve done this in Tripping the Flash Fantastic but will be doing more of this in my follow-up to that. (Yes, I’m working on a third collection though naturally that has to go on the back burner for the moment).
 
The important thing is to have fun with what you write. You are your own first reader. If you enjoy it, it is highly likely others will.
 
And, later, when it comes to promoting your work, it will be a joy to do because you yourself like what you have written. That is SO important because promoting IS hard work so you really do need to enjoy what you choose to do here.
 
And the support of other writer friends helps SO much. Thanks, everyone!
One of the joys of flash is having to continually invent characters. I’ve always loved that aspect of fiction writing so win-win here for yours truly.
It is, I think, behaviour under a specific set of circumstances (i.e. the story) that fascinates me. There is a lot of psychology behind writing and most of it subconcious to the writer!
 
The themes that fascinate us most will come out in our writing. And with flash that can be intense as you are shining a spotlight on one single moment in a character’s life.
 
I use the What If question a lot when working out my characters and stories? It’s a useful place to start.

Goodreads Author Blog – Reading While Travelling

Can you read while you travel?

I never used to be able to do so when a kid. I was lucky enough never to feel travel sick but reading while a car was moving just felt odd and so I didn’t bother! Why make myself feel odd when I could just look out of the window and play I-Spy or Pub Cricket? Also, we tended to listen to music a lot while going to see family etc and, while I can write with classical on, I prefer to read in silence and always have done.

These days, reading while travelling (when possible!) is less of a problem but I tend to stick to using the Kindle for this. That is partly convenience – one device, loads of books to choose from! I’ve always liked that about the Kindle.

I tend to read light works when out and about. I like to save the murder stories etc for when I’ve got to my destination. Oh and magazines. I can manage the odd one of those while travelling. I often catch up on Writing Magazine articles this way.

So what do you read when you travel and why?