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!

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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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Book Events, Videos, and Inspiration

Image Credit:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Some images created in Book Brush using Pixabay photos. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.
Brechin/Angus Festival related images created by Sarah Archibald. All screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes, as were the photos of my copies of The Best of CafeLit 10 and the extract from my story in that. Photos of me reading at the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School Open Prose Mic Night were taken by Geoff Parkes and Fiona Parks. (Great job done too, guys, thank you!).
Hope you have had a good week so far. Am busy getting ready for the Brechin/Angus Book Festival. Will write more about that in due course, especially for Chandler’s Ford Today. Looking forward to catching up with writer friends here too (and making new ones!).

Brechin Poster

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Hope you have had a good Tuesday. I’ll be packing tomorrow for my trip northwards to the Brechin/Angus Book Festival. Now apologies are due from yours truly. I forgot to share my latest YouTube video yesterday so am making up for that now. Hope you enjoy this one – Rocket.


Many thanks to the good folks behind Christmas Book Hub for featuring my Tripping The Flash Fantastic today. (15th November 2021 – see screenshot below). Much appreciated especially the link

Am away from Thursday for the Brechin/Angus Book Festival. I will be posting but at different times. I look forward to reporting back (via Chandler’s Ford Today in particular) about how the Festival went.

TTFF on Christmas Book Hub 2021

Not a bad weekend. Just asked Amazon Author Central to include Resolutions: An Anthology, the latest book from Bridge House Publishing, to my page. I’m one of the contributing authors with my story Next Time, Maybe. For all of the anthologies I’m in I have to ask Amazon to add it to my page and they usually do so within a day or two.

I take the opportunity while doing this kind of thing to ask the Authors Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS) to add the book to my list with them. Why? Because I can earn some money from ALCS for all the books I either write or contribute to which are listed with them. (Can’t do ebooks as ALCS need an ISBN rather than an ASIN) but, as a certain supermarket would say, every little bit helps. It is always good to get more books added to the list!

Resolutions 3D

Hope you have had a good day. Glad to see the comments are still coming in for The Gift, my latest story on Friday Flash Fiction. Thanks, everyone.

So looking forward to the Brechin/Angus Book Festival next week. I’m going up on the Thursday and hope to report back on the Festival for Chandler’s Ford Today later in November. It will be great catching up with writer friends at this Festival too. (And do bear in mind that book events are great places to start your Christmas shopping. Just saying and all that…!).

I plan to do plenty of writing on the train up to Scotland – flash fiction, blogs etc. The great thing with doing this is I know I will use all of what I draft even if I don’t do so immediately. And I find that the act of writing in itself can trigger other ideas to explore. There is truth in the saying the more you write, the more ideas you will have. It is as if you need to get started and then a creative spark kicks in and before you know it other ideas have occurred to you (which you jot down immediately to avoid forgetting them again).

Screenshot 2021-11-12 at 16-51-35 The Gift, by Allison Symes

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Just a quick reminder that I often post flash fiction videos over on my YouTube channel. You can check it out at the link below. Latest story up is called Rocket. (Sorry meant to share this yesterday but forgot). Anyway hope you enjoy the videos. My sympathy on Rocket is definitely with the recipient here. See what you think.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCPCiePD4p_vWp4bz2d80SJA

 

Screenshot 2021-11-16 at 20-25-46 Allison Symes

A quick heads up for my Chandler’s Ford Today post this week. I am going to be discussing flash fiction with a fellow writer, Lynn Clement, in the first half of a two part interview. There is a lovely story behind how Lynn and I met and how we crossed paths again professionally recently. Lynn also has a splendid new book out called The City of Stories (published by Chapeltown Books). I look forward to sharing the link on Friday.

As I am away at the Brechin/Angus Book Festival from 18th to 22nd November, my postings will be at different times to my usual ones but thank goodness for Evernote, a smart phone, and a WIFI connection! They make postings possible! (I have to laugh at myself a bit here as I held out against a smart phone for ages. Can’t imagine my life without one now!).

 

Inspiration for my flash tales comes from all sorts of things – proverbs and phrases as I’ve mentioned before, but also personal tastes. In my Taking Time Out From the Day Job in The Best of CafeLit 10, my character’s secret sin is revealed to be chocolate bars, in particular Dairy Milk. Hmm… I didn’t have to look far for inspiration for that idea!

So you can take bits and pieces you like and loathe (either work) and see why your characters have these likings and loathings. Where a liking would not usually be a problem, put your character in a situation where it becomes one and see how they manage it. Good potential for comedy there. And what if a loathing for say travelling stops your character making progress in their career yet they want to advance in what they do and have to find a way around their travel phobia? What would they do? Again good story potential here.

CafeLit10 3D

 

One thing I’m looking forward to doing at the Brechin/Angus Book Festival I’m taking part in next week is reading out some of my flash fiction. It is a great way to both demonstrate what flash is and entertain your audience. Flash has the benefit too of its restricted word count – you can’t go on for too long! Everyone likes that!

I’m running a workshop on flash fiction and giving a separate author talk on The Ups and Downs of Becoming an Author. This topic is especially apt as I discovered flash fiction by accident but it is definitely one of the “ups”!

Goodreads Author Blog – All The Fun of the Book Event

Next week, I will be at the Brechin/Angus Book Festival where I will be running a workshop on flash fiction and giving an author talk on The Ups and Downs of Becoming An Author. Very much looking forward to this.

I always enjoy spreading the word about my genre, flash fiction, and it is my great hope that, as a format, it might be useful in drawing in the reluctant reader given I’m not asking them to commit to too much in one go. Once you have someone reading, who knows where that will take them?

Book events are great fun because there is a lot of camaraderie between the authors taking part, hopefully you sell books, and the event in and of itself is a celebration I think of the written word. That is always a good thing. And, especially at this time of year, they make great places to begin your Christmas shopping! Well, there must be someone you know who’d appreciate a good book!

Why not pop across to your next book event and see if you can tick some more items off your present shopping list?

Of course, I will get to see what other books are available at the event. What are the chances of me coming home again without having added to my To Be Read list?

That’s right – none whatsoever! (And I think that is the way it should be too).

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