A few this time! A huge thank you to Paula R.C. Readman, Debz Brown, Gill James, Nicole Fitton, Hannah Ruth Retallick, and Lynn Clement for supplying images of me reading at the Bridge House Publishing Celebration Event. Other photos from that event were taken by yours truly, Allison Symes, as were the screenshots. Other images created in Book Brush using Pixabay images. (Always tricky taking publicity shots of yourself as you’re trying to do the actual publicity work!).
There are a few things which have become almost like traditions for me in the run up to Christmas. Certainly they are lovely ways of finishing my writing year.
Bridge House Publishing Celebration Event
It is always a joy to go to my publisher’s annual celebration event as it gives me a chance to meet up with fellow authors that, for the rest of the year, I only “see” online. Social media is excellent for keeping contacts going but nothing is quite the same as getting together in person.
It was with great pleasure then I found myself once more at the wonderfully named and fantastically decorated Theodore Bullfrog pub in London on Saturday, 2nd December 2023. The books being celebrated were Gifted, the latest Bridge House Publishing anthology, and The Best of CafeLit 12. I am privileged to have stories in both.
Plus during the year Bridge House Publishing (which also encompasses Chapeltown Books and CafeLit amongst other imprints) brings out new collections from authors new to them and those of us who are, shall we say, more “seasoned”!
Bridge House Publishing are fantastic at encouraging writers and their anthologies always have an interesting theme, connected with Christmas in some way, to write about. One thing those of us who can get to this event benefit from is finding out early the theme for the anthology for the following year. No spoilers, obviously, but all of their themes can be open to many different interpretations. I love that aspect. It gives a writer more flexibility. And yes I do hope to write something for the 2024 book.
Getting to Catch Up
After a horrendous train journey up to London, it was a relief to join everyone and I was especially pleased to catch up with Lynn Clement, whose book The City of Stories (Chapeltown Books) I had the privilege of editing.
Nice story here. I met Lynn when I gave a talk to the Hampshire Writers’ Society some time ago about the joys of flash fiction and, naturally, I also spread the word about CafeLit, Chapeltown Books, and Bridge House Publishing. Lynn duly gets a collection of her work together and submits it. Chapeltown Books accepts it and assigns Lynn an editor – yours truly! The publisher was delighted to hear the tale here!
It was also a great joy to catch up with Paula R C Readman and Hannah Ruth Retallick (both, like me, are “seasoned” Bridge House authors) and June Webber, whom I know through The Writers’ Summer School, Swanwick. June had a story published last year in The Best of CafeLit 11.
(June and I got to enjoy a calm and relaxed journey home on the train together. We usually get to chat via Zoom when not at Swanwick). It was also lovely to meet Nicole Fitton and good to see other familiar faces around the tables. This event is a fun one and those of us who can get to these as often as we can. So I was not at all surprised to see many familiar faces!
Lunch was convivial (as it should be!) and then came author readings. I read Punish the Innocent and George Changes His Mind from From Light to Dark and Back Again and Seeing is Believing from Tripping the Flash Fantastic. There was a great collection of stories read out. About a dozen writers present took part in this and it was fabulous to hear the styles of the different tales. Very entertaining. Who doesn’t like being read to?
When I am at events, I often do read a couple of my flash fiction tales. It has led to sales as people literally take in what I do and what flash is and then go with it. I could do with this happening more often! But it has been abundantly clear to me people love being read to. I know I love it myself.
After all my love of books comes from being read to when I was a child. I owe my late mother a huge debt here for encouraging my love of reading and books and, as a result, going on to write. It was a joy to hear my fellow authors share their works. We all appreciate the work we have put in to our stories so to hear the finished results is special.
There was a book stall. What we would all like though would be more reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. A simple review on here can help an author so much. I sometimes use clips of my reviews for social media posts as reviews also help make a writer more visible online. That in turn can often lead to a positive knock-on effect on sales. Other than buying the book itself, reviewing it (fairly!) is the next best thing someone can do to help a writer.
Three Minutes Santa Show on North Manchester FM – 16th December 2023
Am thrilled to say my festive flash piece called This Is The Partnership was accepted by Hannah Kate for her Three Minute Santas show on North Manchester FM on 16th December 2023. So pleased to achieve this again. It is the third year running I’ve had a story on here.
Find out how Santa deals with a dodgy saleman and what the contract and the Tooth Fairy have to do with this as well. It was great fun to write. Hope you enjoy listening to it. Link to it below.
My story comes in at the 34 minutes mark on Part 1 of the show. Do check out the other pieces on here. They are a great mix and the whole show is so entertaining. I was especially pleased to see and hear two other stories by people I know on this show – Rosemary Johnson, whom I interviewed here last week, and Jenny Sanders. Both ladies often come to the flash fiction group I run for the Association of Christian Writers.
Christmas Stories – Friday Flash Fiction, CafeLit, Writing Magazine Grand Flash Prize, and Festive Flash Fiction by Allison Symes
Friday Flash Fiction
I also took part in the Friday Flash Fiction Christmas competition. This involved sending two 100 word stories over the two weeks the competition ran.
My first story entry is Questions.
My second story entry is Breakdown.
A panel of volunteer judges is appointed by the website’s owner and they come back with their choices. Most popular story wins a cash prize (and kudos!). Meantime, our stories appear on the website so we all benefit from being published!
Pleased to be back on CafeLit too with my tale I Do, I Don’t which started life as one of my prompts from Flash NANO 2023.
Writing Magazine Grand Flash Prize
I’ve sent off an entry for Writing Magazine’s Grand Flash Prize. Maximum word count 500 words. Deadline 31st December so you still have time to have a go at this one if you fancy a go! Top prize is £1000. Second prize is £250. Well worth a go! Cost is £10 an entry if you are a subscriber, else it is £16. Submissions are done via their online form but it is easy to complete and submit.
Festive Flash Fiction Stories by Allison Symes
Last but not least, I thought I would leave you with two festive flash fiction pieces. The first one, Timings, appeared on my YouTube channel on 18th December 2023. Even Santa can get fed up with late post.
Last but not least, I thought I would leave you with a story I’ve shared on my website. Hope you enjoy it. If there is a lesson to be learned here, it is to never envy the fate of the fairy on top of the Christmas tree.
The Christmas Tree Fairy by Allison Symes
They get me out of the big cardboard box once a year.
They need five minutes to get the dust out of my ear.
I am given the place of honour, you see.
I must sparkle and shine, every part of me.
I look down at the festive tinsel and lights.
While affixed, I get ladders in my tights.
I watch them scoff all the Christmas chocs
Then doze away by the telly box.
I try to make the most of what I can see.
Takes my mind off having been rammed on a tree.
Pleasant it is not, there are places pine should not go
But I’m just a toy fairy, they think, what would I know?
And then before I know it Twelfth Night is here.
Tomorrow I go inside for the next year.
Allison Symes – 13th December 2023
I hope the writers amongst us have had a good year. I hope all of us get to enjoy plenty of good stories in the year to come, whether we write them, read them, or ideally do both.
May I finish by wishing everyone a Happy and Peaceful Christmas.
Read blog posts by Allison Symes published on Chandler’s Ford Today.
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