Brechin/Angus Book Festival – 21st and 22nd November 2020

Image Credit:-

All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated.

Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.

Top Tips image created on Book Brush (who use Pixabay images – I’ve recognised quite a few!).

Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

Delighted to share my latest CFT post – Brechin/Angus Book Festival – Local Author News – Allison Symes. Not perhaps the snappiest of titles I’ve ever come up with but it does do what it says on the tin, to quote the old Ronseal advert!

Very pleased to be in such distinguished company too and given book festivals celebrate stories and books, what is there not to like about that?

Pleased to say I’m “on” for the Sunday from 1.35 for about 20 minutes or so.

Hopefully “see” you there!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Given I can’t go swimming at the moment, raking up leaves from my oak trees is proving to be a good replacement workout! Lady would love to be out “helping me” but we live on a main road so that’s not possible.

There are advantages to living on a main road by the way. Nobody but nobody parks in front of my house. Even delivery drivers never stop long….

True story: years ago, we were unfortunate enough to be burgled. We were lucky. We got our things back (my engagement ring, things like that) because they caught the thief red-handed literally further down the road from me.

A police officer came to see us after all was sorted out just to make sure we were okay and parked his marked car outside our drive. He and I were chatting when we heard this enormous bang.

Yes! Someone had driven round the corner and somehow had not seen a marked police car and went smack into it.

Would’ve loved to have seen the insurance claim on that one!

Writing wise, I’m looking forward to sharing my CFT post tomorrow about the Brechin/Angus Book Fest. Naturally I’m looking forward to taking part in that over the weekend.

I also hope to have further publication news in the not too distant future.

Favourite thing to write ever? For me it’s those magic words “the end” after I’ve got the first draft down. I then know I’ve got something to work with and that always comes as something of a relief even now after many years of writing.

Oh and a huge thanks for all the views on my Last Request story on Youtube. And a big welcome to all of my subscribers too!😊


How has your Wednesday been? Good I trust.

What made you start writing? I’d always loved stories and loved composition lessons in English where we had to write tales to whatever theme the teacher said. And there my writing remained.

I had in the back of my mind that it might be a nice thing to do one day but I didn’t write seriously until two major landmark events in my life made me realise if I was going to get any writing done, I ought to get on and do some.
My only regret in writing has been not starting sooner.

It takes you longer than you realise to find your voice and discover what form of writing suits you best and this is an ongoing process. As you know, I hadn’t started out by writing flash fiction but that is where I’m published.

What I would advise anyone who is thinking of writing is to go for it.
At best you will discover something that entrances you, keeps your mind active, encourages the development of your imagination, and hopefully you’ll end up published too.

At worst, you’ll discover it’s not for you or that you will only write occasionally for your own pleasure and that’s fine too.

It is important to love writing. It is what helps keep you going when the rejections hit the fan.

Okay, you’re not going to love all of it all of the time but, as long as most of the time, you can’t imagine your life without writing, then you’re on a good path!

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Looking forward to waving the flag for flash fiction at the Brechin/Angus Book Festival over the weekend. I am “on” during Sunday from about 1.35 pm for 20 minutes or so.

See my CFT post at https://chandlersfordtoday.co.uk/brechin-angus-book-festival-local-author-news-allison-symes/ for more details. There is a direct link to the event as part of my post (as well as the first link given above).

Delighted to see that my Last Request very short flash story on Youtube has attracted almost 300 views. A big thank you, everyone. I plan to do more of these. They’re great fun to do and I hope make for an entertaining advert for my writing.

I don’t know about you but I never mind adverts that amuse or entertain me. I can think of several from years ago that I can remember now precisely because they were entertaining and/or amusing.

Flash fiction is, by its nature, ideal for this kind of thing!

Favourite tips for writing flash fiction and which have never let me down:-

  1. Focus on the character. It is their story. What matters to them? What is the problem they’ve got to overcome? What gets in their way? What helps them?
  2. Just get the story down and edit afterwards. My first edit starts by taking my wasted words out – very, actually, and that. I don’t worry that I seem to just write them in the first draft. I know they’re coming out and that bit can wait until I’m ready. What matters initially is just getting that story nailed down.
  3. When you think you’ve edited the story enough (note I say think!), read it out loud. This is easier to do with flash fiction writing I must say but I will pick up on wording I could phrase better when doing this. It is worth doing.

Happy writing!

BookBrushImage-2020-11-18-21-3548


A flash fiction story shines an intense light on one particular moment of change for a character. In a longer short story, that point could well be the start of the story and the tale would be long enough to show other moments of change happening (catalysts happen!).

What that moment of change is depends on the character to an extent. A feisty character is going to take major change more in their stride than someone who isn’t and therefore for the latter that change is more dramatic.

Ultimately, for me, any story is about how the character handles the situation they find themselves in. If your character, say, shows great courage, there should be some inkling that they are capable of it earlier in the story. In flash fiction, that inkling will be the odd seemingly throw away line which, on a second read of the story, proves to be pivotal.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Fairytales With Bite – Be Wary!

If you’re a resident of a magical world, what should you be wary of? Plenty!

The little old lady/gent who looks harmless. Note I said looks there! They’re usually a witch or wizard in disguise and are anything but harmless.

Dragons, vampires, monsters of all kinds turning up. You live in a magical world. You get used to it.

Being unkind to the youngest son or daughter or a stepdaughter in particular. Things usually dramatically improve for them. Your fortunes on the other hand will sink completely the moment theirs shows any signs of that improvement.

Spells going wrong. Trick here is not to get in the way of any apprentices to wizards (who are usually looking to get out of doing cleaning the boring manual way) or trainee fairies. They are bound to make mistakes. You just don’t want to be on the receiving end.

Animals. Some of them talk. Some of them weren’t animals to begin with. If you’re invited to kiss a frog by said frog, think about what you might be letting yourself in for (it’s not giving birth to tadpoles by the way).

Any notices that invite you to “eat me” or “drink me”. Any truly good food and drink has no need to advertise itself in that way. Any food and drink that does… well there has to be a catch and you don’t want to be the one caught out by them.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This World and Others – Settings Used as Characters

Yes, it is possible to use a setting as a character. Think about Wuthering Heights. The moors there play a pivotal role as does The Cobb in Lyme Regis in Jane Austen’s Persuasion.

So how can you use a setting as a character?

It has to be distinctive. The story can’t happen anywhere else. It has to happen in the setting you’ve created.

It can be a threat to your characters. Think The Lord of the Rings or Narnia. Mordor and Narnia where it is always winter but never Christmas are not exactly fun places to be!

It has a mood of its own. Think moors and you generally think of damp, foggy places where people can easily get lost or injure themselves. Can the weather change quickly? Do you have to be a local to understand the mood of the setting and avoid its traps? Also can the setting in and of itself affect the mood of your characters?

It has to have some sort of input to the conclusion of your story. You can’t have The Lord of the Rings without Mordor being faced up to at some point.
What makes your setting unique? Why have you chosen it? What aspects do you want to bring into your story?

Plenty to think about there but, just as I outline a character, I think it pays to outline your setting too. Work out how you will use it to add depth to your story. Ask yourself what you want your readers to “see” and “feel” as they read your story and absorb the setting you’ve put it in.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Twitter Corner

Looking forward to sharing this post tomorrow. I’ll be talking about the Brechin/Angus Book Fest which I’m taking part in over the weekend. pic.twitter.com/bJMGojgwlQ— Allison Symes (@AllisonSymes1) November 19, 2020

Brechin/Angus Book Festival – Local Author News – Allison Symes https://t.co/gXqFRomCag Delighted to share my CFT post. Not the snappiest of titles I’ve ever invented but it does do what it says on the tin! I’m “on” for the Sunday from 1.35 for about 20 minutes. “See” you there! pic.twitter.com/1usdNYZNwZ— Allison Symes (@AllisonSymes1) November 20, 2020

Youtube, Bookshop, and Falling Over!

It really has been one of those weeks, folks!

Image Credit:-

All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.

Facebook – General

Am pleased to announce I have set up a Youtube channel. See the link here.
Naturally the first thing I put on here was the book trailer for Tripping The Flash Fantastic! Also on here are the book trailer for From Light to Dark and Back Again and a video of me reading Judgement Day which I used at my recent cyberlaunch.

I hope to create and put more videos on here on a fairly regular basis. One great thing about flash fiction stories is they make great adverts for trailers and the like.

Hope you enjoy this – and watch this space, as they say! I have linked my channel to this Facebook page, my website, my Twitter feed, my Linkedin page and my Chandler’s Ford Today author page, my Amazon Author Central page, and my Cafelit author page, so you can click through to any of those from here.

I was also pleased with the way the banner has worked out as I really wanted “my” castle from the book cover for TTFF to show well here.
Definitely my marketing bit for today I think!

Screenshot_2020-10-31 Allison Symes - YouTube

Hope your Sunday has been okay. Is getting wild, wet, and windy here in Hampshire this evening. Not that I needed much encouragement to stay indoors at my desk writing away but bad weather does help there!

Have started work on the project I’m using as a kind of NaNoWriMo. I say kind of because it’s not a novel, I’ve written some of the material already, and I’m hoping to use November to get the project restructured (which it needs) and to add material to it after that. I would like to get a complete first draft done by the end of the calendar year and maybe think about submitting it come Spring 2021.

Good fun playing with my Youtube channel. I’m hoping to add material to that every week or so and it will encourage me to be creative with how I do this. That’s never a bad thing!

Have a good reading and writing week!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Quick heads up and thanks to #AlyRhodes for flagging up Bookshop, who represent many indie bookshops throughout the UK. Sales made through Bookshop raise funds for said indie bookshops so win-win and an alternative to Amazon should you want that.

Delighted to see both From Light to Dark and Back Again and Tripping The Flash Fantastic are on Bookshop (though there is no cover image for the latter).

And don’t forget I am very happy to sign copies of either/both of my books and get them out to people in the post. Just DM me and we can take things from there.

Tripping the Flash Fantastic MediumFromLightToDark_medium-2

Pleased to say I’ve uploaded another of my story videos to my Youtube channel. Putting My Face On is a short piece (even by my standards!) that I first put on this very website back in February. Hope you enjoy. See the link here.

I hope to put story videos and the like here on a fairly regular basis. Flash fiction works brilliantly for this kind of thing and it is another way of getting a story across!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

From Light to Dark and Back Again

I’ve been busy setting up a Youtube channel and now have my first videos on it – the book trailers for From Light to Dark and Back Again, Tripping the Flash Fantastic, and a reading of Judgement Day from TTFF.

I will be putting more stories on here in due course. Flash tales work really well for trailers and naturally I hope the YT channel will draw people to this website etc as well.

Moving on from there, a big thanks for the wonderful response to my story, Finding My Feet, which went up on Cafelit yesterday. I love writing funny fairytales like this. I think they can also be a bit of a tonic at times. And boy do we need something that can cheer us a little right now. Stories, for me, are wonderful works of escapism (which is why tales about pandemic are unlikely to go down that well with me. Nothing wrong with the tales. Just not for me and that’s fine).

Stories “just” for entertainment have value and merit and even more so now, I think.

Happy reading and writing!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

One of the joys of flash fiction writing is in having to come up with so many different characters. Inventing my own people has always been my favourite bit of story writing so win-win here.

What I look for are characters who engage with me as if I’m hooked by them, then there’s a good chance readers will be! (It at least ups my chances there!).

For a character to engage with me there has to be something about their voice that draws me in. They don’t necessarily have to be likeable. I can think of a few of my characters I wouldn’t want to meet on a dark night (!) – and that must be even more true for my crime and horror writing friends!😂

I’m looking for traits I sympathise with or situations where I would ask what would I do given these circumstances. Then there are the characters who are greedy, for example, (where I don’t like them at all) but I can drop them right in it and the consequences of that greed are brought home. Plenty of stories there!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Hope your Monday has gone reasonably well. Mine got off to a bad start when I tripped over as I was walking home from the park with Lady and her best buddie, Khaya, the Ridgeback, and Khaya’s human mum.

What was lovely was the way the two dogs came up and gave me a lick as if to say ‘we’re sure you’re not meant to be on the floor like that”. Quite right, girls, I wasn’t. Huge thanks to Khaya’s mum too.

Nothing broken but one seriously miffed author (at herself) has made sure she HAS stayed upright for the rest of the day! (And I swear I had only been drinking tea before I went out with the dog!).

Now that trip happened in a flash – and it’s true what they say about seeing things in slow motion. I knew I was going to fall, I also knew I couldn’t do anything to stop it (the most annoying bit of all) but it led me to think.

If you could take one moment of your character’s life and “slo-mo” that, what would it be and why?

Worth thinking about and I’d be very surprised if there isn’t a story idea or two in there. (And I’ve got a blog post out of a wretched fall so win-win!). Oh and I definitely wasn’t tripping the flash fantastic either!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Am working on my non-fiction book as my major project for November. It is an interesting challenge and so different from flash fiction writing but both in their way need to get their message across.

The message in any story is, for me, whether I can understand the character and what they are doing and why. If I can, then I will have read the story through to the end, as I would have had to find out what happened to said character and if any guesses I made at the start of the tale proved to be correct or not. Always a great guessing game that one!

My natural flash limit is the under 500 words kind of tale. I haven’t set out to do that deliberately. It’s just where I seem to gravitate to. Of course, for the non-fiction book I need a lot more than 500 words! Still onwards and upwards….

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Goodreads Author Blog – Book Adaptations – When They Work…

I’m sure we’ve all seen film adaptations of books that we’ve loathed (”not true to the book” etc) but what about the ones that work?

The Ian Fleming Bond books I think transferred well. Some of them have had pretty good audio adaptations too. I was sorry to hear about the death of Sir Sean Connery today who did sterling work there! Also loved his roles in The Hunt For Red October and The Untouchables, amongst many others.

A good film adaptation will bring a book to life for viewers and may even encourage them to go and read the book for themselves. A Muppet Christmas Carol is upfront about telling viewers to do exactly that right at the end of the movie.

For me, The Lord of the Rings adaptation brought to life for me The Shire etc as I had seen it in my own imagination when reading the trilogy. It remains my favourite adaptation.

I accept that not every element in a novel is going to make it to the big screen version for various reasons but what you do want is to be true to the spirit of what the book’s author intended. As long as a film does that, it is going to work.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Twitter Corner

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js