I am thrilled to announce my debut flash fiction collection, From Light to Dark and Back Again, has now been published by Chapeltown Books. It is available in paperback and in Kindle format via Amazon and, of course, directly from me but more on that later.
The stories range from 100 words tales to 500 words to 750 and there are one or two which just creep in as flash fiction, being just under the 1000 words limit. This is generally recognized as the cutting off point between flash and standard short story lengths.
Some are funny stories, most have a twist in the tale, others are crime tales and there are even one or two that would count as dark fantasy/light horror. (It can be interesting seeing where the different genres merge. There is an area of fantasy which spills over into either sci-fi or horror).
I hope to have some book signings, I will post more on that as and when I know dates for these and there will be a cyber launch in due course. All of this is new territory for me as a writer and I am both excited and nervous about it all at the same time! There will also be a radio interview on Mearns FM in due course.
Meanwhile, I’ve been putting postcards about the book in various places and will continue to do the legwork here (literally!). So far the cards are in the Chandler’s Ford library, Tesco in Hiltingbury and the Post Office in Ashdown Road (the latter have been particularly supportive and I’d like to say thank you here for this). I’ve also put a few cards at the railway station.
I hope to get down to Eastleigh before too long and leave some cards in various places there. If you come across them and are interested, please don’t hesitate to take one. I can be contacted if you want further details via the websites which are given on the card.
So what does this actually mean? Well, it is the next major stage of my particular writing journey of course and the fulfilment of a long-held wish. I’ve always wanted to have my own library of books (achieved!) and, on those shelves, to have books with my name on the front cover.
From Light to Dark and Back Again is, I hope, book one in a series of flash fiction books I hope to produce over time. I also hope to bring out some standard length short story collections too (each tale being circa 1500 to 2000 words long, which is competition entry standard).
The journey to publication has been a long one. I’ve been writing for more years than I care to recall but I learned some time ago that you have to be committed to writing and accept you are in for the long haul. It helps if you can see rejections as steps along the way (and this is more likely when you take in useful advice from those rejections. That doesn’t mean necessarily accepting every single thing you are told when reacting to feedback on stories but if more than one person is telling you the same, or you yourself realize when reading feedback, well hey I had wondered about that myself, it’s definitely time for some editing!).
It also has helped to know rejection is never personal and there is no such thing as the perfect piece of writing. It can all be improved! (This is why deadlines were invented. Otherwise writers could procrastinate for years on a single piece of work!).
Stages to publication have been:-
1. First print acceptance (A Helping Hand in Bridge House Publishing’s Alternative Renditions).
2. First online acceptance (story on Shortbread Short Stories).
3. First online acceptance of a flash fiction piece (Cafelit)
4. First appearance in an anthology (The Best of Cafelit 4)
5. First published article on Chandler’s Ford Today (and discovering I rather like writing non-fiction too!).
6. Being interviewed for the first time (by fellow author Jacci Gooding). Hope to put the link up to this on my websites.
7. Going to a writer’s conference for the first time (Winchester) and feeling very nervous and out of place but made welcome. Made to feel like a proper writer!
8. First commendation of a short story at Winchester.
9. Last year first residential writer’s school at Swanwick where I immersed myself in the writing world for a glorious few days. I’ve already booked to go back!
10. First reviews appearing my book.
11. Learning how to set up and run my own websites and round up blog of what I write where.
12. Holding my first writing talk at Southampton Writers Circle in Shirley late last year. They’ve invited me back and I’m due to hold my first flash fiction workshop with them soon.
The other thing that will change is my role in writing festivals and the like. I will still go to Swanwick Writers’ Summer School and, much more locally, the Winchester Writers’ Festival and enjoy learning from those much further along the published road than I am. But I will be taking books and postcards of my own to sell and to give to people for the first time. It feels like I have crossed a major threshold.
I think one of the great things about creative writing (whether it’s fiction or otherwise) is that you never stop learning. There is always the wish to improve on what you do and although tales of sock puppetry (where rivals to an author destroy their books with rotten reviews on Amazon and the like under a false identity) do happen, it is the case there is a lot of mutual support between writers.
One will share word of a friend’s book, they then share news of that other’s work when they’ve got a book out and so on. Deep down, regardless of what we write, is the knowledge that we are contributing to the world of stories (when writing fiction) and to general knowledge (when writing non-fiction). Most writers are also happy to discuss what worked, share links to useful websites and so on.
All I can be certain of now is I will make mistakes. I will discover some things worked better than others when promoting my work but all of this is part of the fun of developing as a writer.
So I suppose I have proved the truth that persistence does pay. I remember all the early writing advice I received focused on don’t give up and get feedback from those you trust. I highly recommend doing both.
And, as others wiser than me have said, the man or woman who makes no mistakes makes nothing whatsoever.
From Light to Dark and Back Again by Allison Symes
- Paperback from Amazon: From Light to Dark and Back Again
- Kindle Edition: From Light to Dark and Back Again
Read blog posts by Allison Symes published on Chandler’s Ford Today.