It is typical there is no Local Author News for ages, then there are two at once!
I am delighted to bring you news of my latest publications, including the production of my first book, From Light to Dark and Back Again, which is a flash fiction collection being published by independent press, Chapeltown Books.
And I’ve been judging short stories for a competition, will shortly be going to this year’s Bridge House Publishing/Cafelit joint book launch and have another story, The Delivery, coming out on highly respected website, Alfie Dog Limited.
Image Credit: Unless stated otherwise, all images are taken by me.
Alfie Dog Limited is a great shop window for authors’ stories. You download stories at a reasonable rate and I find sampling a writer’s work like this gives me a very good idea as to whether I’m going to like their longer fiction or not. Alfie Dog also covers most genres so there is bound to be something to suit.
I’ve also been interviewed by Jacci Gooding, a lovely author friend who I met at Winchester Writers’ Festival a couple of years back. Her questions really made me think and I hope to put the interview up on CFT in due course. It’s the first time I’ve been really grilled as a writer but it was good fun to do.
A lot has happened since my stay at the Swanwick Summer Writers’ School in August.
My judging of the annual Greensleeves Short Story competition run by Southampton Writers’ Circle came about as a result of meeting someone at Swanwick from that Circle and getting into lots of lovely discussions about writing tips and so on. It was her idea I should come to the Circle and share some of this advice (which is the whole point of writing groups and conferences such as Winchester and Swanwick, we all learn from each other) and I ended up judging their competition.
I provided critiques of the stories. The format of the critiques was based on feedback I have had on my stories in the past. When I enter competitions if I get the chance to have feedback, I nearly always take it. There’s usually a reasonable additional fee (it covers some of the judge’s time) but the feedback I have received has enabled me to see my work with fresh eyes and given me ideas on what to look for when editing my stories before submitting them. I’m glad to say the critiques went down well. It was also useful experience for me in writing them. You really do wear a different hat as a judge rather than as a writer.
Then came the news my flash fiction story, Telling the Time, was to appear in this year’s Cafelit anthology, The Best of Cafelit 5.
This was shortly followed by the news my short story, Helping Out, was to appear in this year’s Bridge House Publishing anthology, Baubles. This meant I got an invitation to the joint book launch by both Bridge House and Cafelit!! Still I only need the one train ticket…
And with Baubles came my first involvement with a book trailer.
The joint book launch will be in London on Saturday 3rd December and I am looking forward to catching up with everyone again. My first ever story, A Helping Hand, was published by Bridge House. My first online story was published by Cafelit. Chapeltown Books is linked to both and I feel in some ways I am coming full circle but I like that.
I love the annual book launches as these events are always good fun and I must admit I love finding out what other writers are up to. This is partly because I’m nosey (and honest it must be said!) but also I often find out about competitions I didn’t know about and might note for future reference. Likewise I can share information. It is always a two-way street (and all the better for all writers because of it). It’s a good way of getting warnings out about vanity publishers, scam writing competitions and so on. Sadly no industry is without its charlatans and that includes publishing.
But the big highlight for this year is From Light to Dark and Back Again. I have long dreamed of having a book with my name on it “out there” and what brought it home to me that finally I will achieve this is when I was going through the camera ready proof. The words “The right of Allison Symes to be identified as author of this work…” gave me a thrill. Why? Every book on my bookshelves has this in for the relevant author (to assert copyright and other rights) and I suppose this phrase brings it home I will have a “proper” book to my name. (I’ve nothing against e-books, they are just another format, and most of my work has appeared electronically as well as in print).
I’ve really enjoyed the process of choosing a suitable cover image for the book and proofreading I saw as a joy in itself. I love editing as well as writing (the work always improves) and proofreading is the final edit.
I also adore flash fiction so am very pleased to have a full book out made up of these. Flash fiction could be useful for those who like their stories short (and I could see them as a way of tempting reluctant readers in – you’re not committing to a huge read with a flash tale after all).
Flash fiction covers “moments” which are not long enough to make up a full short story so are a great way to use material I can’t use elsewhere. For example, one of my most recent, which I have put up on my Fairytales with Bite website is called The Magician.
I don’t know how she does it. Whatever I put down, it vanishes in seconds. I stand there, looking at her and she just looks at me knowingly. I blink, I look again, it’s all gone. She looks smug.
It must be a kind of magic. Certainly she’s consistent with it. I don’t know how she gets away with it though. If I tried her trick, I’d get chronic indigestion.
But then my border collie is a wizard at making her food and treats disappear…
Flash fiction is also excellent for conveying one mood, whether it is humorous or darker (and that is the direct inspiration for my book). Sometimes I will take a flash fiction piece and then expand it to a standard short story competition length (usually 1500 to 1700 words). Flash fiction is a great discipline in working to a tight word count. It’s funny how I can manage it with stories but not with blog posts… sorry Janet.
So there are lots of things happening and all of them are good! I hope to build on this in 2017 and I am already at work on my next flash fiction collection. Oh and my next Chandler’s Ford Today post of course.
Outside of writing, I love tennis and have been delighted to see both Andy and Jamie Murray get to world number one in the men’s singles and doubles. Now there is proof persistence, patience and hard work can and does pay off. All writers who have been successful (or would like to be) know this too. Indeed I believe no real achievement in any field is possible without these things.
Read blog posts by Allison Symes published on Chandler’s Ford Today.
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