Back From Brechin

Image Credit:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Some images created in Book Brush using Pixabay photos. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes.
Many thanks to Sarah Archibald for Brechin/Angus Book Festival related material. Also a huge thanks to Wendy H Jones, Caroline Johnston, Tony Collins, Maressa Mortimer, Ruth Leigh, and Sarah Grace for their fab author and book cover photos for my Chandler’s Ford Today post this week.  My book cover images are from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.

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Am pleased to share Back from Brechin, my latest post on Chandler’s Ford Today. I look at how the event went, the benefits of events like this, discuss my talk and workshop here, and give a shout-out to the contingent from the Association of Christian Writers who went, especially Wendy H Jones, who hosted us and ferried us around. (A huge thanks also to Maressa Mortimer for her valuable taxi services too!).

There were eight of us all including me and we covered a wide range of writing between us – literally everything from children’s fiction to crime to flash fiction to memoir and narrative non-fiction and YA stories to historical novels and Christian chicklit.

The event was great fun and useful experience, as well as it being the first major book event I’ve taken part in since before lockdown. What with this, and the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School back in August, it is good to be out and about again. I love Zoom but getting together with people at in-person events has been something I’ve missed over the last year or so and it is good these are coming back.

Back From Brechin

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Brrr… back to the biting cold again. Not that Lady worried as she was too busy playing with Coco and Katima, two of her pals today. Mind you, Lady might have wondered why her owner insisted we kept walking around the park instead of staying still to watch her and her pals play. I was trying to get some life back into my feet!

Will be sharing my Back From Brechin post for Chandler’s Ford Today tomorrow. It was such useful experience and good fun taking part in the Brechin/Angus Book Festival. Link above.

Now I’ve talked before about using a variety of methods to trigger ideas for my short stories and flash fiction pieces. I do much the same for my blog posts. Events I go to are obvious topics to write up but I also look at aspects of writing which intrigue me (and I won’t be the only one to be intrigued – what fascinates one writer will fascinate others) and I adore interviewing other writers. I always learn something interesting and interviews make a great way about sharing who you are and what you do in an entertaining way without being too “in your face” with the old “buy my book” routine.

I’ve learned over time to keep a watching brief out for topics I think might be of interest to others. And that is the point – it is vital to think of your audience, always, regardless of what you write. It is also vital that you enjoy what you write as that comes through. It also makes it easier for you to sustain your writing over time.

 

Today has been one of those days though the highlights were seeing Lady play with her best buddy, the Rhodesian Ridgeback, and Coco, the lovely Labradoodle. Even better their mutual pal, a very smiley Hungarian Vizler, came and joined in the fun. The other highlight was getting my hair done. But other than that…!

Sent my author newsletter out earlier. See link. Always good fun to put these together.

Looking forward to going to the Bridge House Publishing celebration event on Saturday. Will be lovely to catch up with friends. (Zoom and Facebook have been a lifeline but you can’t beat getting together in person where possible).

As you know I blog for a number of places and I can’t recommend drafting posts for future use highly enough. It has often proved a lifeline for me as it means I know I always have something which will be “good to go” as and when I need them. It pays to have a “stock” in of these and whenever I go out by train, I always draft blog posts like this once I’ve finished drafting some flash fiction of course!

Screenshot 2021-12-03 at 19-45-49 Allison Symes - December 2021 - Festive Flash and More

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My latest story on Friday Flash Fiction is called Specialist Subject where my heroine, Doreen, finds a way of dealing with the local bore. Find out how via the link. My sympathies are entirely with Doreen incidentally!


Screenshot 2021-12-03 at 17-08-27 Specialist Subject, by Allison Symes

Unless I am writing for a specific website such as Paragraph Planet or Friday Flash Fiction or Mom’s Favorite Reads, I don’t worry about the word count until I’ve got the story down. With the three sites I’ve mentioned, I know their word count, what it looks like on a page, and know what to aim for so away I go.

But if I’m not writing for a specific market, I want to write without having to worry about the word count too much. Once I’ve edited the story so I know it is as good as I can make it, I then think either where can I send this piece (and I will know of a few places, I can also research some) OR I save these for open competitions.

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Amongst the many random generators out there is a random object one. Having a quick look tonight, I set two items as my parameters and came up with the words balloon and box.

Now you could just find a way of getting these words into a story. You could get your character(s) to love or loathe these things and your story is about why they feel this way and what led them to that. In the case of loathing, you could also examine what happens if the character is forced to deal with these items again. They’re in a situation where they can’t avoid the things. How do they handle that?

And you could find a way of framing your title around the items too. Plus you could have two characters with opposing views on these objects. How do they resolve their differences? For the above example, what if one character wants their kid to have loads of balloons and boxes at their party, it’s what they always had, while the other believes these are wasteful and doesn’t want any of them?

I’ve found using the different generators enormously useful in (a) coming up with ideas and (b) making me think differently about how I approach writing a story. They’re fun too!

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Fairytales With Bite – Fairytales in the Christmas Season

Fairytales are a popular feature at Christmas of course thanks to pantomime in particular. (Think Cinderella, Babes in the Wood, Sleeping Beauty etc). I enjoy a pantomime where it is clear cast and audience are having lots of fun but overall I prefer reading the original stories.

What I hope the pantomime season does is encourage people to check out the original stories (even if the younger fans might be better off leaving that until they are a little older. Many of the original tales could not be staged as they were originally written).

Where I do enjoy my fairytales at Christmas even more is in certain films. I adore The Polar Express and consider that to be a fairytale (and one with an edge to it too). The same goes for Shrek where I love the way the ogre is the hero here. Fairytales have often been “subverted” and the Shrek films are great examples of that.

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This World and Others – Communal Celebrations

Does your fictional world have communal celebrations? If so, are they based on religion, on seasons of the year, or both? Does everyone take part in these? Are any celebrations from the past now banned and, if so, why was that done? How tolerant are your differing peoples of the celebrations of others?

Communal celebrations serve to bring people together and to lift the spirit (especially winter based events as these are often connected with celebrating light and foreshadowing the return of spring). Are these aims achieved in your fictional festivals? Do your characters join in with the events or choose to abstain? Is joining in compulsory?

What foods and drinks are served and who prepares these? Is magic involved in the celebrations? Answering questions like these will help you to picture what your fictional world would do. If that makes things clearer for you, it will do the same for your readers.

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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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Random Generators, Endings, and Exercise

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. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes.
A good start to the week – new story up on Friday Flash Fiction and a new video to share. Also getting closer to the Brechin/Angus Book Festival (19th to 21st November 2021) and am so looking forward to taking part in that.

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Hope you have had a good day. Busy but enjoyable one here. Managed to get out for a swim today and set a personal best so well pleased with that. When I started swimming regularly, I did think I would use the time in the pool to think out story ideas etc. Not a bit of it!

I just don’t think of anything other than trying to keep count of what number length I’m up to but I guess in some ways that is the point. I come out of the pool refreshed and it is that which helps get the writing brain going again after a break from the desk.

So having found this to be the case, it gives me reason to plan out my exercise spots to ensure I do get regular breaks from the desk. Writing is wonderful, great for the brain, but is stationary so the swimming and walking the dog are the two things I do to balance that out a bit.

Busy start to the working week. I submitted a new story to Friday Flash Fiction yesterday and created a new story video for my YouTube channel. Sunday is rapidly becoming flash fiction and story day! Not that I mind. I find it helpful to have a writing structure for the week as a whole. It also means I tend to get straight into my writing day by day and end up getting more done so it does pay to plan out what you’re doing over a week.

My Chandler’s Ford Today post this week will be about book lists. I prepare two of these a year – one for my birthday and the other for Christmas. I look at the value of lists like this. Let’s just say it makes me easy to buy for! But posts like this are great fun to write as it is a celebration of books in general and there is always time to write posts like that!

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Pleased to share a link to my recent feature in Mom’s Favorite Reads. My theme for this month was Light and Dark in Flash Fiction. You can have a lot of fun with both of those themes. I share several ways in which you can take these themes too. When I was putting my debut flash collection together for Chapeltown Books, I found my stories fell into these two basic categories so used that to inspire the title – From Light to Dark and Back Again.

Do check out the flash fiction stories other writers have come up with to my theme. There are some fabulous stories coming into the magazine. Don’t miss out. It is free and a good read.


Hope you are having a good weekend. Can’t get over how quickly it gets dark now and we haven’t even turned the clocks back in the UK yet.

A huge thanks for all the comments coming in on Clockwork, my latest #FridayFlashFiction tale. Much appreciated.

Advance notice: I’m not going to be about on 1st November so I will be sending out my author newsletter on 29th October, a couple of days early. This time I’m doing this deliberately! If you’d like to receive said newsletter, please head over to my website at https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com – the landing page takes you straight to the sign up form.

It’s going to be a busy few weeks. I’m off to see Murder with Ghosts staged by The Chameleon Theatre Group on Thursday and I’ve a number of writing things I want to either wrap up and schedule or prepare to take with me as I enjoy a short break from the end of next week.

And I’m getting ready for the Brechin/Angus Book Fest too in November and am looking forward to that and joining up with fellow Bridge House Publishing authors at their celebration event in December. In between all of that, I might just get ready for Christmas!

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

I use a variety of random generator (words, numbers, adjectives, questions, nouns – just to list a few) as all of these give me different trigger points for getting “into” a story. They also make me think outside the box a bit too which is a good thing. It keeps me on my toes. It also means I will never run out of prompts!

And practicing writing to these different types also gives useful practice at writing to different prompts set in writing classes, conferences, and the like because you can never know what will come up with those. (Well, not unless you’re the speaker and you set the things anyway!).

I’ve found it gives me even more fun in coming up with stories precisely because I’m stretching myself here to use things I would not ordinarily have come up with by myself. I’ve written a story this week where I had to use the words egg and bear in it. Done. Submitted it. But I would not have come up with those two things in one story. They’re not an obvious combination.

You can also think of using generators as a warm up writing exercise. Write for five/ten minutes on what comes up. Edit and polish later. Submit later!

Hope you enjoy my latest YouTube story, About Time. This story was triggered by my using a random time generator (yes, really!) to give me the time that appears in this tale. I realised after coming up with the title that it was even more appropriate than I realised when I first read through my initial draft of this. Serendipity perhaps? Maybe but I like it when it happens.


Endings don’t have to be happy in stories. They do have to be satisfying though. The ending has to make sense of what has gone before and be appropriate for the character. In the case of A Christmas Carol, that ending would not have worked unless we had seen Scrooge undergo his transformation from the greatest miser to someone who has learned the value of generosity and kindness. It took something spectacular to shake Scrooge up – and he got that in the form of the three spirits. (I refuse to believe that’s a spoiler now after all this time!).

All stories pivot on a point of change and it is the character who changes in some way. Not all change has to be positive though!

In my story Rewards from From Light to Dark and Back Again, my character’s point of change is when she gets rid of someone who has been in her way for far too long. You’ll have to read the story to find out what my character did and why and what the outcome of that was but the point remains – change does not have to be positive. We read stories to find out what happens so must ensure that something does happen!

This is why for my twist tales I write that twist down first and then work out what could have led to it. This ensures I do go the best plot line leading to this point. And it means I have my appropriate ending all set up good to go. I just need to go back to the beginning and fill the rest in but I do know where I am heading.

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I’m busy preparing for the Brechin/Angus Book Fest which is from 19th to 21st November 2021. I’m running a flash fiction workshop here and giving an author talk.

So looking forward to doing that and catching up with writer friends at this event too. Always happy to spread the word about flash fiction (and often at events one of the best ways of showing what flash is and can be is to read some. That has always gone down well. I’ve often felt adults like being read to as much as children love being read to – it’s just it doesn’t happen so often for us).

See below for more details on the Brechin event. There is a rather familiar looking book in the top right hand corner! This festival will be my first in-person book fair kind of event for at least two years and it will be lovely chatting to people in that kind of environment again. Book festivals are always great fun (and of course are great places to go if you want to get on with your Christmas shopping!).

Goodreads Author Blog – The Role of the Indie Press

Now I’m not unbiased here. I’m published by the indie press and the big thing they do for the world of literature is give many more authors a voice. The world of books is richer for that. There is more choice out there. It is just a question of knowing where to look (and why it is even more vital for authors to have their own websites so we can point people in the right direction!).

Naturally authors like me who are published by the indie press will support said indie press. It is literally in our own interests to do so but I would like to encourage others to try out books brought out by them too. The indie press does provide more variety so why shouldn’t we have that on our book shelves?

And a lot of the indie press will bring out short story, flash fiction, and poetry collections. That give us so much more variety in our reading and what’s not to like about that?

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

Image Credit:

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

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

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

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

Enjoying my workAlways lovely getting to do some signings

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

Screenshot_2020-10-20 (2) Maressa Mortimer Facebook

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

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

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

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

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

Screenshot_2020-10-19 Anthologies - Short Stories and Poetry - Christian Writers


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

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

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

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

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

Signing TTFF


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

So what can be done here?

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

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

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

The Incredible Miss Amy

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


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

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

Certainly the monster looked startled – for a moment.

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

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

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Goodreads Author Blog – Book Covers

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

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

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

We really do judge a book by its cover!

 

Being Interviewed

Image Credit:  As ever Pixabay/Pexels unless stated.

Interview News:  It was fabulous being interviewed by Paula C Readman on her blog. More details below.

Facebook – General

Is it me or are the nights drawing in earlier than usual for August? Still I suppose the upside to that is it encourages me to be either at my desk writing or curled up with a good book reading.

Talking of which, most of my reading I do at bedtime. I’m not seeking to analyse a story at this point! I just want to be entertained and go to sleep having enjoyed a good read. I DO, however, make a note of whatever particularly grabbed me about the book/short story. You can learn a lot from that.

I mix up reading fiction and non-fiction too. A good non-fiction book will grip me just as much as an excellent novel etc and reading non-fiction regularly can help trigger ideas for stories. Having said that, you should see my TBR pile, “real” and electronic versions! Still, those will keep me out of mischief for some time and that is never a bad thing!😀

I am delighted to be on the other side of the interview desk tonight with my appearance on #PaulaReadman‘s blog, Funeral Birds to Stone Angels. Hope you enjoy the interview (and do check out the other interviews on here too (see the Guest Book Tour Page). The chats are fabulous and I find I’m always entertained by what other authors have to say. I usually learn something useful too so win-win!).

Allison Symes - Published Works

Yours truly and some of my collected works! Image by Adrian Symes

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Delighted to see this on the Waterstones site. Looking forward to seeing Tripping the Flash Fantastic on there too!

I do enjoy writing character thoughts. I love creating dialogue too but with my 100 word stories in particular, I often don’t have room for my characters to get a conversation going!

I can get them to think though and thoughts reveal so much about the character.

What would you make of a character who thought something such as “I can’t be bothered to go to Helen’s”?

What would your initial thoughts be? That the character was lazy? Dog tired and just can’t face going out?

A lot of the assumptions you make here will depend on how much of the story you’ve already read.

But what if that was the opening line? You would be expecting to see a lazy character maybe get their comeuppance perhaps? That might be the point of the story. And it may well be BUT one thing I also love is layering so how could I layer that line to get something more from it?

“I can’t be bothered to go to Helen’s. I’ve been around there so often in the last few weeks and yet she never comes here.”

Now what would you think? Maybe you would feel more pity for this character now? I know I would.

The lovely thing about layering is you get to direct how it goes and you can throw in a red herring too.

“I can’t be bothered to go to Helen’s. I’ve been around there so often in the last few weeks and yet she never comes here. I reckon that agoraphobia she says she has is just an excuse to never go out. It only needs one bus ride to get here. Just what is her problem?”
Allison Symes – 24th August 2020

Any sympathy for this character has now gone right out of the old window, yes?

Work out what you want to reveal about your character and remember you don’t have to share it all at once!

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I can’t say I was impressed with Storm Francis. (I should imagine the Pope might not be too happy at having a storm named after him. I wasn’t impressed there was a Storm Alison a few years back – okay having the second l in the name was probably too much to hope for. I know I can be a right shower at times but a storm? Really?! 😀😀).

Have got an interesting challenge for this week’s CFT post. I’m reviewing the summer! No. Stop it. It is NOT a two word article ending in the word “awful”. Honest. Link up on Friday. Probably best leave it there I think!

 

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

I hope you enjoyed my story, The Special Offer, in my last post. It was great fun to write and I do love using the random generators to trigger ideas. With most of them you can set your own parameters too.

The great thing with all of them is you can choose how to use what you generate. Will the words be a title, a theme, or just be placed in the story somewhere? And you can combine all or any or all of that of course.

With the number generator, you could use the numbers for times (as I’ve mentioned before), but how about a number being used as a house address where something spectacular happens? Or where the number has special meaning for your character?

It can be useful to write down a list of ideas that occur to you. The first few will be the “obvious” ones but those further down the list are unlikely to be so self-evident. THAT is where you may well find the germ of an idea that YOU can turn into something special.

Have fun!

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It was great fun taking part in #PaulaReadman‘s post on her blog today. Just so you know, I do have an interview page on my website, to which I gladly added my appearance on Paula’s blog earlier today. Scroll down and enjoy the read! Hope you enjoy the other interviews on there too. (And Paula is very generous with the cake too!).

It’s always an interesting experience for me being interviewed given I spend a fair amount of time doing the interviewing for Chandler’s Ford Today. Best thing of all? I get to talk about my big fictional love – flash fiction!

 

I hope Monday has been okay for you. Can’t say I’m looking forward to the storm that’s heading to most of us in the UK tomorrow. Still I guess I won’t need any help blowing away the proverbial cobwebs tomorrow!

I’ve just shared on my author page a flash story I created to illustrate a point I was making about layering your characters and not revealing everything about them all at once. I’ll share that story here too.

“I can’t be bothered to go to Helen’s. I’ve been around there so often in the last few weeks and yet she never comes here. I reckon that agoraphobia she says she has is just an excuse to never go out. It only needs one bus ride to get here. Just what is her problem?”
Allison Symes – 24th August 2020

Now you’ll notice immediately there’s one thing missing. Something I’ve often said is important to a tale and that is the title. It is the first “lure” into a story for your reader. So how do I go about choosing a title

?Sometimes a title comes about as a result of the theme of the story. Sometimes it can be based on the character name or their attitude. But here what would I go for and why?

I’d probably call this I’m Not Going Again because (a) it fits the story and (b) will hopefully intrigue a reader enough to find out who is the I in the tale and why they’re not going to somewhere again.

The reason why is important in fiction. Readers lap up a story because they have got to find out what happens. And that’s a good thing.

Think of the stories you’ve loved. What kept you reading them?

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I was right not to be impressed with the storm. Oh it was windy and rainy all right, but Lady and I were not sorry to get back home after our walk today. Was nice to see some sunshine later though.

Now when it comes to my flash tales I write a mixture of “sunny” tales and others which are darker in tone. This is partly due to my writing reflecting what I like to read and directly inspired my first book’s title of course.

Also because I cannot write “light” all the time.

I think it was Terry Pratchett who said you needed to have some tragic relief sometimes. The older I get the more I appreciate that.

My first love will always be light prose (and ideally funny with it) but I do think you need the darker stories as well. Doesn’t that reflect the human condition? Okay there is a limit to how dark I go but I love a well crafted crime novel as well as a funny memoir or short story collection. And there will always be room on my shelves for both.

Flash fiction is fantastic here as the form lends itself well to playing with character and seeing what you can do with them. Therefore it gives you plenty of opportunities to write lighter tales and darker ones and every which shade in between.

Goodreads Author Blog –The Wonders of Non-Fiction

The majority of my reading, whether in paperback or on my trusty Kindle, is fiction to be honest. But I’m a fiction writer so you would expect that.

However, my non-fiction “reading diet” has increased over the last couple of years, partly because I also blog for an online community magazine and a good general knowledge, as well as good sources of research, are useful for that.

But I have found I wanted to read more factual work in between the escape from it all in fiction kind of books.

I’ve enjoyed a few of Ben Macintyre’s books and have developed a greater appreciation for what is known as creative non-fiction.

Gone are the days of worthy tomes gathering dust on shelves somewhere and rightly so. You want books to be in the hands of eager readers and that goes for non-fiction too.

And non-fiction writers still have to know their audience and draw their readers in every bit as much as fiction writers must do.

So what do I look for in a good non-fiction work?

1. I still want to be entertained and often that is with a narrative that grips and is telling me an exciting “story”. The only difference with fiction is that here the story is a true one.

2. I want to learn something new and/or back up the knowledge I already have on a topic. (Ideally I’d do both).

3. I want the non-fiction book I’ve picked to encourage further reading on the topic and give me a source of ideas as to where to turn next.

So what are your favourite non-fiction books? Have you made any great discoveries this year?

 

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