The 5 Questions about my Writing by guest author Allison Symes

One of my dearest friends, whom I met through the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School, is the talented flash fiction writer and blogger Allison Symes. Allison’s writing, I know, inspires younger and less experienced writers. So I am delighted that she joins me today to reveal her answers to 5 questions about her writing.

Many thanks to Val for inviting me on to her blog. I’m Allison Symes, flash fiction writer, blogger and Chandler’s Ford Today columnist. I met Val at Swanwick Writers’ Summer School or more accurately outside Derby Railway Station where I was looking somewhat lost wondering where on earth I picked up the coach to get to Swanwick when Val took me under her wing. We’ve been great friends since!

When I write/When I started writing

I write in the evenings (but when I get the opportunity to snatch time to write during the day I do). I find it easier to write knowing the day’s chores are done and I can “relax” into my writing and enjoy it. I started writing just after my 30th birthday and my only regret here is not starting sooner. I meant to but you know how it is… I think it took a major birthday and the birth of my son to make me face up to the fact if you’re going to do it, girl, get on with it then. And I did! I’ve been getting on with it ever since!

How I write

I write directly to screen these days. When I first started out, everything was on paper first. I’ve discovered the joys of the Evernote app on my phone for when I’m travelling by train etc. Can get a few flash fiction pieces and articles drafted on that and emailed back to myself! Very useful. Great use of “dead” time too. I base my writing week on my Friday column for Chandler’s Ford Today, an online magazine. I aim to have that up and ready to go for Tuesday/Wednesday nights which then gives me time to review it ahead of it going live.

I start my writing evening with that, then move on to my flash fiction and other writing projects. I learned years ago the best way to tackle big projects is to work on them a section at a time regularly. Before you know it the project is ready for editing and then submitting. I submit stories to various sites regularly but want to be more focused on that during the coming year. I often end up submitting in batches, which is fine, but am conscious I may miss a few competitions that way so want to see if I can do better here.

I have fallen totally in love with Scrivener and use it all the time now. I love being able to write notes and insert pictures into a side column (the Inspector column) and this is really useful for my non-fiction work. I also love setting a Project Target. You can watch the bar you set go from red to amber to green as you get nearer to your word count target. For flash fiction, this is invaluable and saves a lot of time NOT counting!

Why I write

I know this is a cliche but it’s true nonetheless – I can’t NOT write. I think most of us need some sort of creative outlet, I’ve always loved words and playing with them, and so creative writing was the way forward for me. Deep down I also feel a sense of debt owing to the world of stories because they have given me so much joy over the years, I feel as if I want to give something back by adding to the pool of stories myself. I also love the challenge of writing (especially flash fiction with its tight word count). I always used to love what was called composition in my days at school and, with hindsight, I should have realised this is where my artistic bent was going to be.

Where I write

Generally on my laptop in a room used as a study/office by my better half and I (though I confess my writing bits and pieces have tended to sprawl on to his desk! Can’t imagine how that’s happened!). As mentioned above though, I love writing on my phone app when travelling. I’ve done so in the back of a car too. Mind, I prefer train travel for this especially when I can get a cup of tea to keep me going!

What I write

I write flash fiction (and I love writing 100-word tales especially) and non-fiction posts for Chandler’s Ford Today, an online community magazine. Indeed, I’ve interviewed Val there!

There is a reasonably sized writing community in my area and most of my posts are aimed at them. For example, Creativity is Good for You, What to look for In a Real Writing Competition, The Benefits of a Good Writing Conference. (Link to my author page on CFT given below). I have sometimes written the odd verse (and usually it is very odd and quirky!).

My first collection of flash fiction stories, From Light to Dark and Back Again, was published by independent press, Chapeltown Books, in 2017 and they are considering my second volume. I’m working on a third! The link takes you to the Book Depository UK.

I also blog regularly on my website – – and monthly for the Association of Christian Writers in their More than Writers blog page. The Collected Works site rounds up my Facebook writing posts (for my author page and, separately, for my book page) on a twice weekly basis most weeks. I share a lot of writing tips and advice I’ve found helpful over the years here.

Am currently revisiting a novel I wrote years ago. Writing flash fiction teaches you how to edit and I’m using the techniques I’ve picked up here to sharpen up this book and hopefully give it a better chance out there when I’m ready to submit it. I submit flash stories online and some appear in print anthologies too. I also write standard length short stories and have had a couple shortlisted in Writing Magazine though I would love to do more there. I would also like to write more non-fiction pieces and see those in magazines etc. I had a short piece called Telling Details recently appear in Christian Writer magazine.

Great thing about all of this? I’m never stuck for something to work on!!

A big thanks to Val for hosting me!


Allison Symes is published by Chapeltown Books, Cafe Lit, and Bridge House Publishing amongst others. She is a member of the Society of Authors and Association of Christian Writers. Her website is and she blogs for Chandler’s Ford Today –


I write non-fiction articles for Chandler’s Ford Today, an online community magazine. I focus on reviewing local theatre productions, writing items of interest to the writers’ community, and articles such as Creativity is Good For You, How to Spot a Real Writing Competition and so on.

Fiction wise, I have been published online and in print by Cafelit, Bridge House Publishing, and Chapeltown Books. I have also been published online by Alfie Dog Fiction. Chapeltown Books published my first flash fiction collection, From Light to Dark and Back Again, in 2017. 

I regularly attend the Winchester Writers’ Festival and have discovered the joys of the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School. I am a member of the Society of Authors and Association of Christian Writers.



  1. This was a good interview. I enjoyed Allison’s thorough answers.


  2. Great blog. I enjoyed reading your answers, Allison.


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