Living Up To A Name and Writing Challenges

Image Credit:-

All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated.

Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.

Image of The Writer’s Diary taken by me, Allison Symes, as this fab book was one of my Christmas presents!

Facebook – General

Brrr…. Another chilly day today, not that Lady seemed to notice.

My writing diary has a wonderful template for outlining characters and one aspect to that is talking about a character’s needs. These range from the basic needs (food, drink, shelter etc) to psychological needs (needing to be loved etc). But there is another aspect to this.

What does the character think they need? This will often not be the same as actual needs (basic, psychological or otherwise). The character may or may not be right to think they need these things. But what makes them think that they do?

This is a useful thing to consider when outlining your villains especially. Why does a villain think they need to dominate the world (and generally they so do!), for example? What drives them? Yes, the obvious reason will be the drive for power but what’s the reason behind that? That will colour how you outline your character so well worth giving further thought about.

If they honestly believe their actions are the only way to secure their own safety, that will drive them to keep going no matter what. It would also make their attitude understandable to a reader.

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Just to flag up Amazon have the paperback of Tripping The Flash Fantastic on offer right now. See http://author.to/AllisonSymesAuthorCent for more.

Have also just sent off a blog piece where I’ll be the guest sometime in March. Have another one to prepare. All great fun.

Am drafting a short story for submission later this month/early February. I have totally fallen for my lead character. It is a wonderful moment when you know you’ve got right under the skin of your character so accurately. It’s also nice this character is someone I wouldn’t mind having coffee with if they were for real. I can’t say that for all of my “people”. Some are definitely meant to chill you! Some are historical figures and long gone…!

Chilly one over at the park today though at least Lady got to have a good run around with her best buddie, the loveliest Ridgeback in these parts. Another doggy pal of them both came over and the three were very happy and above all warm, unlike their owners! Stamping life back into your feet can take a while…


I always find the time between Christmas and just after New Year a strange one. For a start, it can be tricky working out which day of the week it is (and not helped at all by the pandemic with most people being at home and again losing track of the days of the week). I guess this shows I need structure and I’m not surprised by that.

I have a structure to my writing after all, not just in terms of outlining my stories and characters, but also in terms of what I’ll be doing and when. For example, my CFT post for this coming Friday is already up and scheduled but I am working on the one after that and hope to get that sorted out probably by Wednesday or so.

I finish my day’s writing either by writing flash fiction, working on my non-fiction book or another longer term project. By the time I look back at the week that has just gone, I will have wriitten several thousand words and made good progress on my project. You build up on what you do. And I find that structure works for me.

I just can’t wing it though I have no problem doing that when I am set writing exercises say at places like Swanwick, I guess I know I’m going to be set those so subconsciously I’m ready for them even though I won’t know the topic.

The tricky thing is finding time to do the “housekeeping” (for example, updating the website and so on). These tasks I try to do at least once every couple of weeks (though with my twice weekly round up, I am adding fresh material to the website all the time).

Does a structure work for you? I find I do get more done than if I didn’t have one. Why? Simply because I tick things off my list as I go and it always makes me feel better to see that list go down a bit.

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Hope your Saturday has been okay. Nice quiet one here though appreciating the central heating right now! One good thing about the cold, dark nights is that it does mean an evening at the desk writing is even more appealing than it usually is!

Writing challenges that always need to be met:-

1. Getting started!

2. Committing time to write. (And if you only do have 10 minutes, commit to that. Over the course of a week, a month etc, those pockets of 10 minutes build up. And it’s a good time slot for drafting a piece of flash fiction say or trying out a writing exercise you’ve come across. I hope to be talking about writing exercises in a future CFT post. Watch this space!).

3. Silencing your inner editor. There is a time for your inner editor to get on and do some decent work but it’s never while you’re trying to get the first draft down. Just get your ideas and thoughts down. What needs to come out will come out in the edit later on. Don’t let your inner editor stump your efforts to get any work down at all. It can happen.

4. Convincing yourself you can write. Confidence is an issue for most writers. And most of us have had to fight (and keep fighting) Imposter Syndrome regularly. See that as part of the writing life. Rejections are part of the writing life too. These things are obstacles to be overcome. You can write. You can improve what you write (and therefore up your chances of being published). This takes time. It is not a race. Willingness to learn and improve what you do is what matters here. You can write. Nobody but nobody writes perfect prose at the first go. You do get better over time at avoiding the basic mistakes (as you’ve learned what to look for and avoid!).

5. Avoiding the scammers and vanity presses. There is always someone out there waiting to trip up the unwary writer. Always ask for advice from the Society of Authors and/or Alliance of Independent Authors.

Happy writing! (I appreciate happy editing is possibly not for everyone though I like editing, as you would hope!).


Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Many thanks for the great response to my story video yesterday (see post below). One/two line stories like Living Up To A Name, my story from yesterday, work wonderfully for this kind of thing.

Writing such stories is also great practice for writing a blurb for books etc given they usually have to be one to two lines only. The more I write flash fiction, the more I appreciate (a) the beauty of the short form and (b) the shorter the form, the more difficult it is to do well (so a big shout out to all poets here as well by the way!).

Flash fiction to my mind is precision writing. You do have to think about whether each word is really punching its weight in your piece or whether a better word would have more impact. (This is something that all poets do too).

But it is huge fun to do – and a good challenge. Challenges keep you as a writer on your toes and that’s no bad thing.

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Story time – and a timely one too given it has been so cold throughout most of the UK. Hope you enjoy.

Living Up To A Name
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3BHYEO8Cv98


My new writing diary comes with plenty of prompts and I hope to get around to do at least some of this year. Flash fiction is perfect for this kind of writing because often you’re asked to write 500 words on this or that or you find the topic given is best suited to a short piece. So using prompts as a way of practicing your flash fiction writing is a good idea. And if you can polish those prompts up and get work submitted and accepted as a result even better! Definitely worth a go!


One of my goals for this year is to get a third flash fiction collection together. I’ve written a reasonable amount on this already but it will be what I return to when I’m resting my other big project, a non-fiction one.

Getting a collection together is an interesting process. As well as looking at the individual stories I’m looking at how well the collection will work as a whole. Does every one of my selected stories help enhance that theme in some way? If they don’t, well those are stories I save for another collection and another time.

What has been fascinating is seeing what my editors have picked up on for both of my books and it has always been a lightbulb moment for me of “oh yes”. That’s a good sign. It means the editors have picked up on things I’m too close to see as the author. You need an editor to point these things out. Do see your editor as your best ally in helping you to get your work as good as possible. It is what we are here for!

Oh and I am probably going to leave the name of this page as it is because (a) I like it and it’s a nice nod to my first book, (b), it is different, and (c) the link to flash fiction is apparent as you read through a post or two!

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Goodreads Author Blog – BOOKS Acrostic

B = Beautiful, bindings to suit (paperback or hardback or chapbook, brilliant at taking you into other worlds.

O = Original thoughts from writers and can make you look at our own world in a different light while reading fantasy and science fiction

O = Overdosing on books is fine. The worst you will be is well read and short on book shelf space.

K = Kindle. One way around the shelf storage problem and you don’t have to limit books to take away with you on holiday, when we can do such things again.

S = Stories in so many forms including non-fiction because that tells factual stories.

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Twitter Corner

 

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Welcome to Tripping The Flash Fantastic

Facebook – General

Well all good things must come to an end and I am now travelling home. Fantastic tour of Scotland on the way, mind you. (As at 12th September!)
 
Am looking forward to holding a cyberlaunch for Tripping The Flash Fantastic. Will post about that separately. Am looking forward to taking part in author event with Gill James and Dawn Kentish Knox later this month. Next few weeks will be busy, busy, busy but all in a good way.
 
As you can imagine, I’m thrilled to have two published books to my name and hope there will be more in due course.
 
Naturally I am proud of the anthologies my work appears in too.
 
Did I have any idea any of this would happen when I started out as a writer? Of course not. The writing journey is a rollercoaster ride and I can’t tell you how many rejections I’ve had. I gave up counting to be honest.
 
What I do know is not giving up and being open to trying different forms of writing worked for me. There is no Use By Date here either so hope these things continue to work for me.
 
 

Many thanks, everyone, for your kind words, likes etc., since I announced the “arrival” of Tripping the Flash Fantastic.
 
I look forward to sharing news of a cyberlaunch in due course but the first event will be the 26th September one where I will be talking about the book and sharing some stories from it.
 
I also look forward to hearing what #GillJames and #DawnKentishKnox have to share. Do join the three of us from 3 to 4 pm on 26th September. I will be posting about this on Chandler’s Ford Today later this week and all details for how to register etc will be on that.
 
Oh and you can get a flavour of TTFF if you pop across to Amazon and use the Look Inside feature. (See link below and above).
 
whats-your-story
 
Have started the process of updating pages like this one (my Facebook author page) with my book cover image for Tripping the Flash Fantastic. Thought I’d include a couple of images where I’ve been reading from From Light to Dark and Back Again. (I do LOVE the Chapeltown frames. Do check the entire series out incidentally. The books are a real eclectic mix but that frame makes them stand out as far as I’m concerned).
 
Many thanks to #PennyBlackburn for the one of me reading at Swanwick (I’m behind the stand for that one). Also thanks to #DawnKentishKnox for the one taken of me reading at a Bridge House Publishing event.
 
A big thanks to my other half for the picture of me with published works, though he is going to have to redo it! (Am hopeless at selfies to be honest). All part of the marketing though.
 
Have started the process of catching up with everything after a holiday. I need a fortnight I think..!
 

Just a quick post to say I’d contacted Amazon to update my Author Central page and they did so within 24 hours. 

Hope your Tuesday has proved to be okay. Very warm in Hampshire. Coming back from Scotland at the weekend, well it does seem like someone has turned up the thermostat in Hampshire! (It’s either that or I’m having more hot flushes than I realised!).
 
Writing plans at the moment are focused on getting ready for the Zoom event and my cyberlaunch for Tripping the Flash Fantastic, plus of course my CFT posts and other blogs I write for.
 
Am looking forward to getting some goodies prepared with my book cover on so will no doubt be spending some time on a certain well known company’s website at the weekend, working out what I’d like to get in! I loved this aspect of things for From Light to Dark and Back Again.
 
How long does it take to get a collection together? For me, it is about 18 months. That is partly due to the fact I like to have a couple of writing projects on the go so therefore a collection is bound to take a bit longer to put together.
 
The advantage of this approach though is I am blogging in different places, entering competitions, revamping earlier stories and submitting them and it makes my writing life beautifully varied and interesting.
 
I’m also taking part in blogs and interviewing authors especially for CFT and I do see posting my blogs as part of my overall marketing. It gets my name out there and I hope the blogs prove to be useful and interesting. I love reading a well crafted blog myself and always learn plenty from them. I do limit how many I read though otherwise I wouldn’t get any writing done!

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

The journey home from Scotland is a lovely scenic tour and I love glimpses into the places I pass by. What will I miss most on going home? The gorgeous views around where I was staying.
 
What would your characters miss most if you took that away from them?
 
If another character tries to take that away, what would your lead character do to stop them? What revenge is your character capable of?
 
Plenty of story ideas there!
You would be right if you thought I might be a tad excited about TTFF coming out! But on to other issues as there is a question I’d like to put to you, yes you.
 
Quick survey. Which do you like LEAST about the writing process?
 
1. Getting the first draft down.
2. Editing
One thing I try to avoid with my flash fiction is in writing “the same old”. This is why I like setting my tales in different worlds, time periods etc., and to use varying genres for the stories themselves.
 
There is so much variety in writing historical flash fiction, crime flash, horror flash, funny flash etc. The other advantage of this is it means I’m never going to be short of something to write!
 
I like to think of my books as “selection boxes” of stories. Who doesn’t like a selection box from time to time?!😊 I often read flash and short story collections in between reading novels. By the time I’ve finished reading a collection, I know what genre of novel I want to read next!
Hope you like the change of picture at the top of this page!  (My Facebook book page). With a new book out there is plenty to do but the good news is it doesn’t all have to be done at once. I am planning to share a couple of stories from Tripping the Flash Fantastic at the Zoom event on 26th September. Look out for my CFT post on Friday which will give more information and the link for this.
 
I love opportunities to read my stories aloud so am so looking forward to this event. And I am looking forward to hearing what fellow authors, Gill James and Dawn Kentish Knox, will share with us too.
 
The challenge of flash fiction writing doesn’t diminish. You have to think of new characters all the time and work out what to do with them. You get through characters very quickly. But that is all part of the fun for me. Inventing new people was always the big draw for story writing for me so win-win here!

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Goodreads Author Blog – Audio Books

Audio books come into their own for long car journeys. It has been a joy to re-listen to Raising Steam and Snuff from Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series on my way home from Scotland. Hope to listen to his Reaper Man later too.

And it is lovely to be read to as well. From a writing viewpoint, I get to hear how dialogue works. And I can always learn from that.

What are your favourite audio books? Do you prefer the book in audio or in print? What makes a book work for you in audio?

For me it has to be the way the narrator brings the characters to life. A good narrator makes all the difference.

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