For once I’ve summed up my news in my title! January and February have been incredibly busy but fun.
One thing all writers want is to build on what has gone before so we move forward. Those moves forward can be in big steps, little ones, or anything in between. Often one thing leads to another. It is the way of the writing life a lot happens over a comparatively short period and then nothing for a while. A bit like London buses – three turn up near enough at once! But you get used to that.
Podcast News – Wendy H Jones
Scottish crime writer and podcaster, Wendy H Jones, invited me back to her show on 27th January. This time I was talking about writing a regular column and how to keep on finding ideas for it. Naturally, I was talking about Chandler’s Ford Today (it was wonderful waving the flag!), and Janet Williams and Richard Hardie (who told me about CFT) had honourable mentions.
It was great fun to chat to Wendy again. It is interesting to have two sides to my writing life – the fiction and the blogging/article writing. Non-fiction, I think unfairly, can sometimes be seen as the poor relation to fiction. It should not be. Not only is it a great art form in its own right, I know fascinating non-fiction articles spark ideas off for stories!
I would normally have shared news about my podcast appearance sooner but didn’t want to interrupt my Launches in Lockdown series. It has been encouraging receiving positive comments on that here on CFT and on my Facebook page so many thanks, everyone. I think this series may be my zeitgeist one!
Most writers will tell you a little encouragement goes a long way! What I hope the series does is encourage those who are wondering how on earth they’re going to have their launches this year, given we still cannot know when restrictions will be lifted.
Anyway, a huge thanks to Wendy once again for hosting me and for setting me marvellous questions.
Oh, as a lovely bonus, Wendy has told me the episode where I discussed flash fiction writing with her has proved to be one of her most listened-to shows. Yes, I am flattered. (It is also an encouragement to me to “up my game” as much as I can).
Interview – Hannah Kate – North Manchester FM
Now you may remember I had a flash fiction story of mine broadcast on Hannah Kate’s show around Christmas time as she produces an end of year flash festive story special. (I thought at the time that had my name on it!).
But she was also looking for authors to interview in more depth so I put my hat in the ring, as you do.
I was interviewed by her via Skype on 24th February between 2 and 4 pm and it was great fun to do. The show will be broadcast on 20th March and I will share links on my social media pages just after that.
Naturally I talked about flash fiction, a bit about my writing journey, and I had to name three books I want to save in the event of the apocalypse! Now there was a challenge. I found it hard enough coming up with more books than that for my Desert Island Books post here (see link at end of post). I also managed to talk about my blogging and naturally Chandler’s Ford Today had a good plug!
But it is always a joy to be talking about writing and what you do so I relished chatting with Hannah. The interview wasn’t scripted (though I could and did draft notes for what was likely to come up). Allowing for adverts and jingles etc, my interview lasted for about an hour and a half and is the longest I’ve been on air. All good experience!
Radio has played a major part in my writing life in the last year what with appearances on Chat and Spin Radio too.
WI affiliated group talk
I will be giving a talk via Zoom in the middle of March to a WI affiliated group. In usual circumstances, an author would go along and take their books with them.
I’ll talking about The Ups and Downs of Becoming An Author. I hope to use a mixture of direct talking and a Powerpoint presentation (and these work well on Zoom with its fabulous screen sharing ability).
This will be fantastic experience and I know I will learn a lot from it. I took part in Zoom events last year with Gill James and Dawn Knox and learned so much from those. Naturally I hope one talk to a WI affiliated group will lead to others.
The writing journey is not a straight line for anyone. There are twists and turns. Some of mine have been fantastic, I’ve also had a couple of episodes which could’ve derailed me. So I plan to share a little on that, a few thoughts on the work that goes on behind the scenes as you try to get work published, and how the writing journey doesn’t stop just because you do get published.
You find more challenges to rise to but that is good. The trouble with resting on your laurels is you can end up staying there. It is only by moving on you will get more stories and books published. You have to keep putting the work in, learning from mistakes, building on what you get right and so on.
International Writing Summit – Big Step Forward
I mentioned earlier how one thing can lead to another. Wendy H Jones told me about this international writing summit and I am thrilled to say I’m taking part.
The summit is led by Canadian writer, Larissa Russell, and will be held over a few days from 18th March with various speakers taking part. I rehearsed my flash fiction presentation several times and then my piece was recorded on Zoom on 19th February.
I did find some dummy runs useful as I found out on the first one I needed to cut my material to fit my slot but that was fine. Incidentally it is always better to have too much material than not enough. It is far easier to cut back than pad out! I hope to share links later.
The summit will be held over Zoom and the nice thing with that is I was able to do the dummy runs by setting up a meeting on it with myself, record my presentation, practice share screening, and so on.
I discovered when you record yourself on Zoom, it will automatically convert your recording to an mp4 file when you end the meeting so you can download it and play it back as you wish. That is an incredibly useful feature and as mentioned above I could see from that where I needed to change things (so I did!).
Be aware though with a “talkie” the file size can be large so you do need to give the Zoom the time to make that mp4 file. Mine took several minutes but I was speaking for about 40 minutes (which on editing was cut to about 30 though the overall session will be longer than that as Larissa will introduce me and “wrap up” afterwards. My equivalent to that here on CFT is to write an introduction and wrap up with the conclusion. Every form of media needs some sort of “topping and tailing”!).
Now the reason this is a big step forward for me is I have the potential to reach far more potential readers than I have ever done. I hope, if all goes well, taking part in this summit may lead me to take part in others. And I get to plug the books as I talk about the merits and challenges of flash fiction writing.
People, after the summit, can download speaker sessions but the good news for the speakers? There is an affiliate fee payable to the speaker concerned. So there is the potential to earn from this.
What I am hoping for is more people being aware of who I am, what I write, and checking my books out. I hope that in turn will lead to sales and reviews. (And I’m pleased to say I’ve recently had my first review for Tripping the Flash Fantastic from an American book blog site. It was a great one and hope that leads to more exposure for the book on the other side of the pond).
This summit has led to other changes – on my website.
The speakers must have a giveaway to entice readers to their websites. The only way to do that legally is to have an email list on your website for people to sign up to and authors do this by having a (usually) monthly newsletter for subscribers. You then share your giveaway via that newsletter.
People can of course unsubscribe at any time. This is important. People have to knowingly sign in and be able to cancel at any time so things like this comply with data protection regulations.
My giveaway is a pdf file which is accessed via a link from the welcome to my newsletter email people will receive after signing up. The pdf contains thoughts on flash fiction, some stories, and my social media links. Very much an author’s “advertising kit” in a way. But it gives people a good way of finding out more about you and your work.
I’d been toying with the idea of a newsletter for a while but the summit has made me get on and set one up. Sometimes, just sometimes, you need that helpful shove in the back to make you do something!
I’m planning to issue newsletters with writing tips, flash stories, and my latest news on the 1st of each month, starting in March.
And if you would like to find out more, the link you need is at my website – https://allisonsymescollectedworks.com/
I’ve been busy preparing test emails and newsletters and having dummy runs but all appears to be in order. I’m using Mailchimp as the email software programme and I have had a lot of fun creating my welcome email and the first newsletter using the templates they provide. I am using the Free plan which obviously doesn’t have so many templates as a paid for plan but it is enough to get me started.
This is a whole new sphere of marketing for me and most authors do now have some sort of newsletter and an email sign up list as a great way of connecting with readers directly (which is the idea). The advantage of an email list is it is the author’s email list, it makes it easier to talk to your readers, and by having special things in your newsletter, hopefully people will want to follow you and your works.
Next Stage on the Writing Journey
Who knows? I’m sure it’ll be fun finding out though. It is sometimes a question of trying something and finding out where that leads you. I never expected to be a podcast guest or to be blogging when I started writing (or indeed to be published in flash fiction and look where that has led!).
What I do know – and this will always be true – is there is a lot of hard work behind the scenes in any change to a writer’s professional journey. What is also true is preparation is invaluable. And if you want to grow as an author, you have to be prepared to try new things.
The only things I don’t want right now?
A sore throat or to lose my voice!!
Wish me luck! (And thanks if you do!)
Read blog posts by Allison Symes published on Chandler’s Ford Today.
Never miss out on another blog post. Subscribe here:
Subscribe to Blog via Email