Mulling Over Story News

Image Credit:-

All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated.

Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.

(Though the image of Mulling It Over and Transformations under the Christmas tree was taken by me, as was the screenshot for the North Manchester FM radio show. More on that in the posts below!).

Facebook – General

Delighted to say my copies of Mulling It Over and Transformations arrived today. Stunning covers for them both and wonderful stories inside. A great mix of styles and mood. See more over at my Amazon Author Central page at http://author.to/AllisonSymesAuthorCent

I have a short story in Mulling It Over and three pieces in Transformations. The latter is the paperback compilation of the three ebooks produced by Bridge House Publishing as a result of the last three years’ worth of Waterloo Arts Festival Writing Competition winning tales. And I am delighted that I have a story in each of the three ebooks and so three stories in this compilation. Also pleased to say these two books are now listed under my ALCS record (Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society).

Can you have too many books under the Christmas tree? Of course not! (My wish list to Santa went in some considerable time ago!). It is more difficult to name favourite books though the great thing is nobody says you can only have so many! Just as well too.

Mulling It Over and Transformations under the Christmas tree


Lots happening this week.

Firstly, I’m taking part in the Christmas Book Hub party on 16th December right here on Facebook. I will be sharing a story video with a Christmassy theme (The Help) and there will be a prize too. I’ll be giving away a signed paperback copy of Tripping the Flash Fantastic on the night. Anyone who likes my story video post will be given a number via a random number generator and the person whose number comes up when I make the draw at about 9.30 pm will be the winner. Lucky dip the electronic way basically but all great fun!

I’ve used random number generators before for my launch in October and for From Light to Dark and Back Again back in 2017. Great fun. I use them sometimes to trigger story ideas too. How? I can use the number to mean something special to the characters in my story, or use it as a time (in seconds), or as door number, or a train time etc.

Secondly, I’m pleased to share the link to the radio show where my story, Up to Scratch, will be broadcast on Saturday afternoon (between 2 and 4 pm) on North Manchester FM. Many thanks to Hannah Kate for picking the story and also to Elizabeth Ducie for putting me on to this.

I will be sharing the link to the show itself after the broadcast. See https://hannahkate.net/north-manchester-fm-hannahs-bookshelf-saturday-19-december-2-4pm/ for more and my screenshot below.

Lovely start to the week after a busy Monday (and Lady was busy too. She had a fab time with her Rhodesian Ridgeback buddie this morning and is suitably tired as a result. I expect her buddie is too).

Screenshot_2020-12-14 North Manchester FM Hannah's Bookshelf, Saturday 19 December, 2-4pm - Hannah Kate


Well, I’m glad I raked up leaves yesterday. Today has been a case of soggy Hampshire. Only too glad to be in for a lot of the day AND the countdown to Christmas has now started for me. Why? I watched The Muppet Christmas Carol tonight! One of the best adaptations of that wonderful story and I think the best thing The Muppets did too.

Christmas cards going by post now done and will be off in the box tomorrow.

Writing wise, I’m looking forward to “going” to the Christmas Book Hub Facebook event on Wednesday evening. And my story, Up to Scratch, is due to be part of Hannah’s Bookshelf on North Manchester FM hosted by Hannah Kate later this week.

When I get more details about the time and/or a link to a playback, I’ll share here. It’s another first for me too in that it will be the first time I’ve had a story of mine narrated by someone else.

One of my Christmas Day traditions is a good read in the evening followed by watching some Morecambe and Wise to finish the day off nicely. Looking forward to all of that. And I hope you have plenty of books listed on your wish list to Santa.

 


Hope Saturday has been a nice day. Have continued my autumn/winter workout by raking up leaves. You appreciate coming into a nice warm house after that. An Options orange hot chocolate drink also goes down well after that!

Making good progress on the non-fiction book, have prepped a blog which will appear later this month (as in December I am keen to get anything like that done this side of Christmas – it pays!), and am delighted to say a flash tale of mine has been picked to appear on a festive flash fiction radio show (and a big thanks to #ElizabethDucie for putting me on to this).

I hope to share more details on that later next week but it will be a lovely way to end the year. Am also preparing something for a Facebook event mid-week, again will share more on that next week. (More on this above).

Am sketching out an idea for what will be my first CFT mini-series for 2021 plus continuing to write flash stories which I hope will make it into a third collection in due course.

But I do hope 2021 will see the return of writing events (as well as continuing to use Zoom to make events more accessible). I have missed the interaction which happens when you go to an event.

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Am hoping to get my Facebook posts up earlier than normal tomorrow as I will be taking part in the Christmas Book Hub Facebook party tomorrow evening (16th December). Looking forward to this as I know it will be great fun. And I’ll get to spread the word about the joys of flash fiction too.

The challenges of flash fiction, I suppose, are obvious – the reduced word count and finding the right market for your work, though the latter is true for whatever kind of writing you do. You do get used to the word count restriction though and these days, anything over 1000 words, seems lengthy to me even if I’m over by just one word!

It took me a while to realise my natural writing home (bar my Chandler’s Ford Today posts) is the sub-500 words kind of story. It is what most of my stories seem to naturally come in at and that’s fine. You then learn to play to your strengths but this is all part of the writing journey. You find out what you love doing the most writing wise (and this is what will come to you naturally as you are writing from the heart here). You then focus on that!

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New story video time. Please see the link for A Misguided Day Out which I hope you enjoy. (Definitely not seasonal in my part of the world right now!). What I am enjoying doing here is creating the video in Book Brush, uploading it to Youtube and scheduling it, then going back in to edit the video and add an audio track using the free music available in Youtube. All great fun. And little stories make a great quick read when time is off the essence, which I think is true for most of us right now!


What is your favourite part of a story? I’ve always loved the classic fairytale opening of “once upon a time”, but the bit I really couldn’t wait to get to was when our hero/heroine won through. I was always interested in seeing how that was going to be done (and what would happen the nasty beings getting in our hero/heroine’s way). I guess that should have flagged up a career as a writer could well be in the pipeline!

Even as a kid, I knew life wasn’t fair. Stories were a way of sometimes redressing the balance a bit. I still do find it quietly satisfying when one of my villains gets what’s coming to them and all that. And that is why I think I will always retain my love of fairytales and the fantastic (and why I have a soft spot for crime stories too).

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This story came about as a result of a writing prompt where I had to write a “love letter” to a cherished object. No real surprises at what I picked here!

MY DARLING
I love every moment in your company. You do all that you are meant to do but with such flowing grace it is an absolute pleasure to work with you.
I’ve drafted so many stories with you. I save your cousin, the red pen, for the editing of course, but with you, the writing flows. I can just invent and have fun.
You are the humble biro.
More power to you, pen!
Ends
Allison Symes – December 2020


Goodreads Author Blog – Books FOR Santa.

Humorous post from me this time. I know I like to relax at the end of the day with a good book so what would Santa choose when he has completed a task well done for another year? I make some reading suggestions for the great man here

Now I don’t know about you, but at the end of the day I love my reading time. It’s the perfect way to wind down before sleeping. And there is nothing to beat putting your feet up and enjoying a good read unless you are doing that and eating a big bar of chocolate at the same time! (Let’s assume no mess!).

So let’s give some thought to someone who, when they finally get to put their feet up after a task well done, ought to be able to relax with a good book. So just what would Santa read? My list of books for Santa to read would include:-

  • Improve your World Geography Knowledge in Ten Easy Steps
  • How to Get the Best Out of Your Transport
  • Insulating Your Home The Easy Way
  • What You Really Need to Know about Elves
  • The All Time Great Flight Paths
  • A Christmas Carol (Scrooge prior to the ghosts’ visits would definitely be on the naughty list).
  • The Never Ending Story (Santa is likely to have a lot of sympathy with this one).
  • The Ultimate Gift Guide (not that Santa would really need this. It would be more of a case of keeping an eye on any possible competition!).
  • Perfect Parcel Wrapping – You Too Can Do This!
  • 1001 Carrot Recipes

I hope you have plenty of books on your list to Santa. It goes without saying I have!

 

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

Facebook – General

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

LADY DISCUSSES TTFF WITH ME

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And the icing on the cake today?

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

Thank you, everyone!

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

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

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

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

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

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy reading!

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Time, Heat, and Random Generators

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I wrote this while in the car on the way to a family do (on Saturday 24th August). Looking forward to seeing everyone again. Glad of the air con though.

I remember when that first came to the UK thinking it was a daft idea. With the exception of rare very hot summers, we’d never need that here, I thought. The States, yes; Australia, yes, but here?

Just how wrong can you be?! Very, as it turns out!

Where I am glad not to be wrong is in taking up writing seriously. My only regret is not starting sooner. It does take far longer than you anticipate finding out what it is you want to write and to develop your voice.

Give yourself plenty of time then and ensure you enjoy the journey, at least most of the time!😊

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Must admit I’m not enjoying the heat much (neither is the dog) and it’s hard to believe we’re almost into September. My plans for the last quarter of the year then?

1. To continue submitting work to competitions. I’ve entered more at this stage than I had done for the same period last year so I am pleased with that. I’m waiting to hear on some but will presume no luck if I don’t hear by the end of September. The good thing with that? I’ll have another look at the stories, do any further work on them, and submit them elsewhere.

2. To continue submitting flash fiction to publishers.

3. To hopefully get my novel out into the submissions process.

4. To complete and edit another major project I’m working on with the idea of looking to submit it early in the New Year.

5. To continue with my blogs on CFT and Goodreads. Am hoping to do more with blogging in terms of being a guest on others’ blogs and inviting more on to mine. That is a long term ongoing goal.

6. To revamp my website.

So definitely not stuck for things to do! And I’ve written my goals down too… (much more likely to achieve them or make progress towards achieving them writing them down).

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Just a Minute famously doesn’t allow repetition (except for the subject on the card) in its rounds. Do you find repetition creeping in with your writing?

I find favourite phrases tend to be repeated. I watch for these and limit my use of them. I might’ve written them down six times in my draft but they’ll only appear twice at most in the piece of work that goes “out there” (and that’s assuming I need the second one for emphasis or because it is a phrase my character would use like that).

Most of the time the repetition is not deliberate but I have learned over time not to worry about this when I’m drafting a story. The most important thing is just to get the words down and then tidy things up in the edit.

 

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Glad the weather is supposed to be cooler from tomorrow. Lady and I have drunk gallons (spread out over the day obviously), stayed in the shade etc, and followed all the sensible advice but we still feel more ragged than a ragged cloth that once belonged to a ragged man who lived in a ragged house on a ragged street in a ragged town. I tell you, a used teabag has more life in it than me right now!

Am so glad writing is something you can do sitting down! Moans about the temperature aside, I don’t find writing in high heat a problem. Writing takes me out of myself and I forget everything else and that helps a LOT!

Getting engrossed with characters or the latest blog post is a great situation to be in. It means you know you’ve got something viable. So back to it then….

 

Images:  Those of Lady were taken by Allison Symes. Thankfully side on face shots of dogs can work quite well. Just as well really…

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Getting out and about during the summer can be fun, especially when you catch up with family and friends.

It can also be hell if transport is not all you”d like it to be – and it so often isn’t! If you want to test if your deodorant works, go on the Tube during the summer!

How easy do your characters find their journeys? Is their journey the story or just an important component? What difficulties are you throwing in their way?

In flash fiction, of course, the story is usually the character’s journey in terms of their development and/or how they change in some way. What it should always be is interesting.

I was pleased to get lots done writing wise while travelling to see family yesterday. I love Evernote.

Having said that, writing in the back of a car is not always easy. I use a stylus for writing and every time you go round a bend, the phone screen flips from vertical (my preference) to horizontal and THAT was driving ME round the bend. The Romans were definitely on to something with their straight roads idea…

For once I was focusing on drafting some blog posts rather than flash fiction so I will redress the balance there when I’m next out and about. Need to get some more work out for specific flash fiction competitions I think. (I am waiting to hear on some but it will be a case of only hearing if I do well. If I haven’t heard by the end of September it will be a case of revisiting the stories and then seeing what I can do with them but I never mind that).

F = Fantastic Fun to Write
L = Lines to be kept Tight
A = Action and Animated Stories
S = Super Characters who will keep you gripped
H = Heroics condensed (to 50 words, 100 words, 250 etc etc!)

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I’ve mentioned random word generators before and they can be a great form of writing exercise. But I’ve now come across a random phrase generator. You can select one or several phrases at a time. I think I’ll have some fun with this!

I selected three phrases at a time tonight and my selection came up as:-

Ride Him, Cowboy
Scot-Free
Throw in the Towel

Now there are options here:-

1. Use the phrases as titles for your stories,
2. Use the phrases as themes for your stories.
3. Use the phrases individually, combined or the lot in your tale!
4. Do any or all of the above!

So here goes then… (and this isn’t a story I prepared earlier, honest!).

RIDE HIM, COWBOY
‘Go on then, ride him, cowboy. You are supposed to ride horses, you do know that?’
‘Fine, Jake, but nobody said I had to ride that beast. It’s snorting and pawing the ground. That thing wants to hurt someone and I know it isn’t going to be me.’
‘So Dirk gets off scot-free with his taunting then, Joe. You’ll have a reputation for cowardice for miles. He is watching to see what you’ll do. He’s put bets on that you’ll throw in the towel.’
‘How do you know?’
‘I put 200 on. I came into some money. You know I had that lucky find. Well, I’d been wondering what to do with it and I thought I’d have a flutter. I thought I’d bet on you!’
‘Really?’
‘Yep. Now do you really want me to lose that?’
I gave Jake the look that said I didn’t care but I made myself walk towards the beast from hell. I ignored Dirk’s outright laughter. I knew I’d have to prove myself eventually and it may as well be now. Besides I had a trick up my sleeve and in my pockets.
I stopped within ten feet of the beast and held out my hands to him. He looked at me and came walking slowly over.
There isn’t a horse yet that can resist sugar lumps.
Dirk looked like he wanted to be sick and Jake was rubbing his hands in glee. What he didn’t know was I’d put that money out for him to find. I wanted to take money off Dirk somehow. That would hit him far more than anything else I could do against his taunts and bullying. I just had to do it indirectly.
As for the horse, well every time I see him now, I just stop for a bit and feed him sugar lumps. It’s Dirk’s horse, see. If he ends up with expensive veterinary dental bills for his horse, I’ll have taken money off him again!

ENDS.
Allison Symes – 26th August 2019

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Further to my post about random phrase generators, I thought it was time to give random number ones a turn! How can those be used to generate story ideas?

I found a generator where you set lower and upper limits. The number I generated from this was 313.

Thoughts on how to use this for a flash fiction story:-

1. It could be your word count (to include title or not, as you see fit).

2. You could use a number like this as a time – 3.13 am or 3.13 pm and that time has to be important to your character for some reason. (For numbers that don’t fit with the clock, generate more that will! Or you could use, say 499 if that was the number generated, as a countdown for something. For example your character had 499 minutes to rescue someone).

3. You use the number in some way in your story (for example your character has to run up 313 steps to get away from someone else).

4. Does your character have a number phobia? Can’t bear to see anything with the number 13 in it, for example, and then you put them in situations where that is all they see. How would they react? Would their phobia bring them to a screeching halt or would they find ways of overcoming it so their life isn’t crippled by it any more?

5. Could be a house number either for the character or somewhere the character has to get to or avoid.

Definite story idea triggers there. Have fun!

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Goodreads Author Blog – Reading for Inspiration

Do you read specifically to be inspired for your writing?

I don’t as such.

What I do is read in subject areas of interest to me, fiction and non-fiction, and expect sparks for story/blog ideas to come. I’m rarely disappointed!

Sometimes I know I need to research and then I target my reading appropriately. But usually the spark ideas come as a nice surprise. I know I will find the sparks, it’s just the form they’ll take I can”t anticipate.

But that’s a good thing. In having an open mind, I can make far more use of those sparks when they turn up.

And I increase the amount of reading I do. Win-win!❤😊