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Daily Archives: August 23, 2012

Guest post: Where Do Stories Come From? by Neil L. Yuzuk

Tonight’s guest blog post, on the topic of originations is brought to you by crime novelist Neil Yuzuk.

Where Do Stories Come From?

Doc Ostrow: But the Krell forgot one thing.

Commander John J. Adams: Yes, what?

Doc Ostrow: Monsters, John. Monsters from the Id.

“Monsters from the Id” That famous line comes from the 1956 science-fiction movie, “Forbidden Planet”. Where do our stories come from? Do they come from our Ids, our experiences, our imaginations? Are they a result of some sort of wish fulfillment? I don’t know the specific answer, but I suspect that it’s varying degrees of those things I listed and possibly more that are not listed.

Sometimes stories and writing careers come about in the oddest way. Lois Lewandowski (author of the Gillian Jones mysteries) and I were exchanging emails about the use of forensics in our novels. I told her how Chapter 10 in my latest book, “Beachside PD: The Gypsy Hunter” came about and she urged me to share the story. In actuality, it is a murder mystery that is discovered and solved by the main character in that one chapter.

I called it “The Wrong Man Scenario” and it runs 6,230 words. A woman is found naked and dead in her bed by her husband. Her face is battered and bloody, and she’s been strangled with a scarf. Asleep next to her is a large almost naked man, who has blood spatter on his T-shirt and his knuckles are bruised and raw. A scented candle is burning, there are wine bottles and glasses near the bed and a Barry White CD is playing. The crime scene suggests a sexual encounter that went very wrong.

An open and shut case. But what if he didn’t do it?

Let’s start at the beginning and go back almost four years. I had just retired from my job as a Substance Abuse Prevention Counselor for a New York City high school. One year later, my relationship of 15 years ended—badly—and I was at very loose ends. My son David, a full-time police officer and part-time actor said, “Hey Pops, why don’t you write a movie script for me?” I’d never written more than a couple of short stories and several stage plays about at-risk teenagers for my students to perform for their peers.

So I wrote a script called “The Devil’s Troll” which was a terrific story, but written not so terrifically. However, I found that I had a knack for creating memorable characters and in writing this first time effort I developed research skills, skills that have stayed with me. Robert McKee, in his STORY seminar said, “Write the truth” and I did. Whatever I wrote afterwards, was carefully researched, believable and timelines were observed.

I worked on several more scripts and when David had an idea for a movie, we collaborated on, “The Reluctant Knight.” That became the basis for my first novel, “Beachside PD: The Reluctant Knight” and a crime series was born. David’s cop buddies were generous in sharing their stories and helping me to be real in my fictive telling of those stories.

On one trip down to Florida, I was introduced to a police officer whose name I cannot share. His pseudonym in the book was Robert Zaragossa and he is the real life Gypsy Hunter. There was a major problem in sharing his stories, they were not believable. It was the old story of, truth is stranger than fiction and the difference between fiction and reality, is that fiction needs to be believable.

Reality: There is a Gypsy on death row in Florida. In the book, “Beachside PD: The Gypsy Hunter” it takes Robert eight days to capture him. In real life, he did it in three and a half days using a telephone.

Reality: A four-year-old Gypsy girl is kidnapped by her Gypsy father in a custody battle with the Gypsy mother. One year later—the girl is still missing. Robert is asked to get involved and after two days of telephone calls the now five year old was turned over to the authorities.

I needed a non-Gypsy case to emphasize Robert’s dogged determination—he is a self-described pit bull. There was one such case, but it involves an undercover work and can’t be written at this time

So there I was in Aventura, Florida, at the Bagel Cove (a culinary refuge for New York Jews) having breakfast along with Police Lieutenant Bryan Pegues . . . and over bagels we began to plot murder.

Bryan shared several cases and we started with a carjacking that led to a second case that occurred where and when the carjackers were caught. Then we discussed various real “locked room” murder cases. But the one we selected was never solved. We created a murder scenario, without a specific solution and I left there, with a full tummy and four possible, rather shaky, and unbelievable solutions. It looked like our putative murderer, Martin Luther King “Bull” Belinsky, had played his last football game for the Miami Dolphins and was headed to death row.

I chewed on possible solutions, but none of them worked. Finally, I put one and one and one and one together and got four—a solution that combined good detective work, solid forensics, a witness to evidence (not the crime) and finally, luck. The case was solved and the killer was nailed. The answer evolved through the writing of the chapter.

But who was the killer, you ask? And well, you may. You can find the answer to that question in “The Gypsy Hunter,” Chapter 10.

Thank you, Neil.

Neil L. Yuzuk (pictured right) was born in Brooklyn, New York. Now retired after twenty-two years, as a SPARK Substance Abuse Prevention Counselor, he wrote Beachside PD: The Reluctant Knight, after collaborating with his police officer son on a screenplay of the same name. The book was a finalist in the Global eBook Awards in the category of suspense / thriller.

The second book in the series is Beachside PD: The Gypsy Hunter and third book is entitled Beachside PD: Undercover. He has also written a screenplay: Fade To Light. Another book, Zaragossa: Fruit of the Vine is in the works.

Neil and his co-author son David are the authors of the Beachside PD series and their website is http://www.BeachsidePDBooks.com. You can also watch their video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=20e_i39GaQA and their print / eBooks are available at Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk and Smashwords.

***

If you would like to write a writing-related guest post for my blog then feel free to email me with an outline of what you would like to write about. If it’s writing-related then it’s highly likely I’d email back and say “yes please”.

The blog interviews return as normal tomorrow morning with YA author and guest blogger Anna White – the four hundred and seventy-first of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me.

You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything… and follow me on Twitter where each new posting is automatically announced. You can also read / download my eBooks and free eShorts at SmashwordsSony Reader StoreBarnes & NobleiTunes BookstoreKobo and Amazon, with more to follow. I have a new forum, friend me on Facebook, like me on Facebook, connect with me on LinkedIn, find me on Tumblr, complete my website’s Contact me page or plain and simple, email me.  I also now have a new blog creation service especially for, but not limited to, writers.

Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) :) on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are fortnightly episodes, usually released on Sundays, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.

 
 

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5a.m. Flash 230812 – Submission info. (short stories)

Every now and then at 5a.m. (probably posted by my clone) I will be bringing you a newsflash, update on what I’m doing, invited guest piece, or whatever takes my fancy. Today is the eighth in a mini-series of submission information (previously children’s & YA / flash fiction / non-fiction / novels / poetry / sci-fi, fantasy, horror / scripts)…

Short stories (see above for flash fiction)
  • www.alfiedog.com launched in May offering short story downloads in multiple formats and already carry over 500 stories from more than 130 authors around the world. “We are always open to submissions. All work is read and edited before being accepted and we don’t accept everything which is submitted, although we do try to suggest areas for improvement where this is possible.” Sounds good to me. :)
  • Bound Off usually welcomes submissions for their short story podcast but they’re currently closed until 1st September 2012.
  • Burrst.com is a great site for “short pieces of fiction – bursts of 1,250 words or less, both written and spoken” and welcomes new submissions.
  • CAKE.shortandsweet welcomes flash fiction and short stories for their magazine. They say “CAKE.shortandsweet is a brand new short story project to help unpublished writers get their work seen by the public. We take submissions of excellent stories from anyone and everyone who’s never published their writing. Every month we publish a few of the very best and distribute them to cafés and an independent library in Manchester. We strive to give detailed feedback on any stories that we don’t use, because we want to help writers grow and improve their work. The Portico Library has strong ties to the Manchester Literature Festival and also runs an annual young writers’ prize, so there are excellent opportunities for new writers getting involved with CAKE.shortandsweet.”. NB. You don’t have to live in Manchester, or even the UK, to submit. :) Also see their Facebook home pageFacebook events page and they’re also on Twitter.
  • Carve Magazine publishes short fiction quarterly.
  • Welsh writing group Clebran welcomes short pieces (in Welsh and / or English). No payment but it gets your name out there and you can read all their publications for free online.
  • Comma Press accepts one (two maximum) short stories for their bi-annual new writer showcase.
  • Dahlia Publishing, founded in 2010 and based in Leicester, aims to push the boundaries on creativity and diversity and engage BME readers. They’re keen to work with regional writers and talented young people to open the door to a career in publishing. If you’re writing a book or are a writer based in the region. Their submission guideline page says their looking for ‘Chick lit, Crime, Historical, Romantic, Multicultural, Young Adult and Children’s’ but not ‘Sci-Fi, Weird, Erotica, Horror, Gothic’. They ‘happy to accept poetry and short stories, when presented as a coherent collection’ and are ‘keen to publish first time authors’.
  • Daily Science Fiction welcomes original science fiction and fantasy which is posted / emailed every weekday with shorter pieces Monday to Thursday then a longer piece on Fridays.
  • Online literary magazine Dog Weed seek poetry, fiction, and non-fiction.
  • echook welcome short stories from 750 to 2,500 words,
  • Empirical magazine welcomes submissions of poems, short stories and novel extracts.
  • Enchanted Conversation – see Fairy Tale Magazine.
  • Fairy Tale Magazine (formerly Enchanted Conversation) accepts stories up to 3,000 words and poetry. No theme but submissions should “evoke the feel of classic pre-1900 fairy tales”.
  • Farragos Wainscot is a quarterly journal of the literary weird in fiction, poetry, and experimental wordforms. Unfortunately they no longer take submissions but this may change in the future so do keep looking from time to time (plus it’s an interesting site).
  • Female First online magazine is seeking shorts & poetry from female & male authors. :)
  • Fiction365 accepts stories up to 4,000 words. Payment: “small amount”.
  • Short Story Submission Guidelines for ‘The Fiction Desk’ can be found here.
  • US-based Flashquake is a quarterly ezine publishing flash fiction/non-fiction (max 1000 words) and short poetry (max. 35 lines). Email submit@flashquake.org. Submissions not accepted in February, May, August or November. Payment is US$5 to US$25.
  • Glimmer Train welcomes unpublished stories.
  • Grass Roots Magazine welcomes ‘New Love Stories’.
  • Interlitq “accepts submissions for short fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. We do not accept any unsolicited material that has been previously published. If the material appears anywhere online, including your personal blog, we cannot consider it for publication.”
  • Iota Magazine welcomes submissions of short fiction in any genre, including life writing and memoir for consideration for the second fiction issue. Please send short stories of between 2,000 and 6,000 words. All stories must be the original work of the author. We accept translations as long as they are identified as such. All work must be typed and double spaced. Please also send proposals (150 words) for features or essays. We also accept new fiction, biography and life writing for review, and copies should be sent to the Fiction Reviews Editor at the address below. Please email submissions and proposals to fiction@iotamagazine.co.uk.
  • Australian literary magazine Island publishes “quality short stories (Aus$100), poetry (Aus$60), extracts from forthcoming novels, and articles and essays on topics of social, environmental and cultural significance (Aus$100 per 1,000 words).”
  • The Leading Edge is a semi-professional speculative fiction magazine produced at Brigham Young University, (Utah, USA). You can submit <10,000 words, payment is 1 cent per word ($10 min) + 2 mag copies. They also accept sci-fi/fantasy poetry. Payment is $10 for the first 4 pages, $1.50 for each subsequent page of published poetry. Two contributor copies are also provided. They also buy illustrations.
  • Literary Submission Helper.com has various opportunities including their short story page. You get a sample for free but have to pay to see all 500+ across the genre range.
  • Litro accepts short storiesflash fiction and creative non-fiction (max 3,000 words).
  • Interactive fiction is now available on mobile phones. Mobile books or ‘moooks’ are designed for instant viewing across a wide range of mobile networks worldwide, with first service availability in the UK.  This new interactive storytelling concept is the brainchild of mifiction; a Surrey based company with a mission to introduce interactive books, ‘moooks’ across the mobile platform. The interactive nature means that the reader has the power to decide what happens in the story. At a number of points within each chapter, the reader has a choice of options to determine the outcome, giving an immense number of possible story variations. With more interactive fiction books in the pipeline, mifiction is keen to receive submissions from budding new authors, who can obtain further information by emailing contact@mifiction.co.uk. To find out more about mifiction go to www.mifiction.co.uk, where an example chapter of “The Three Tears” is available for anyone to try for free; simply enter your email address, create a password and explore interactive fiction for yourself.
  • The Moth is a quarterly arts & literature magazine features poetry, short fiction and pictures by established and up-and-coming writers and artists from Ireland and abroad.
  • A brilliant resource is My Perfect Pitch.com which has a page of publishers currently accepting book submissions.
  • The Mystery Place welcomes short stories from 2,500-8,000 words (occasionally <12K).
  • Poland-based New Europe Writers welcomes unpublished fiction and poetry based on set themes. Max 4000 words.
  • http://www.newpages.com/classifieds/calls lists a variety of opportunities in varying genres.
  • Canadian publication The New Quarterly which takes submissions of short stories, poems, essays etc. See website or write to The New Quarterly, c/o St Jerome’s University, 290 Westmount Road North, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada N2L 3G3.
  • Founded in 1988, New Welsh Review is Wales’ leading literary quarterly and welcomes poetry and fiction submissions. They pay £28 per poem (6 max per 6-month period) or c £80 per short story (one per 6-month period). Post to Kathryn Gray, Editor, New Welsh Review, PO Box 170, Aberystwyth, Ceredigion SY23 1WZ or email submissions@newwelshreview.com. Feature proposals to editor@newwelshreview.com. Allow up to 3 months for a reply.
  • One Story is a non-profit seeking 3,000-8,000 word fiction (submissions 1 Sept-31 May only).
  • UK-based Paragram is looking for poetry and flash fiction (max 500 words) for their anthologies. See the website for latest theme.
  • Paraxis is a new online publisher of short stories. “We relish fiction with elements of the strange, uncanny or fantastic. We will be featuring new stories, reprints, artwork and essays.”
  • US-based online magazine Pedestal welcomes poetry of any length or form (max 6 submitted at one time) – payment US$40 per poem – and fiction max 4,200 words (one story per submission) or flash fiction (1,000 words max) – payment for fiction is US8c per word. Subscriptions to the magazine are free (currently c. 16,000 site visits per month). Genres covered include science fiction, horror, mystery and romance especially if character driven. Response c. 4-8 weeks. Pedestal publishes 4-5 times a year and includes c. 4 stories, 15 poems, reviews and interviews.
  • Rusty Nail is a new magazine taking submissions of prose (<3,000 words), poetry, book reviews and artwork.
  • 189 year old American bi-monthly magazine Saturday Evening Post welcome anecdotes/photos, non-fiction (on home, pet finance, 45+, how-to topics) and fiction (preferably light humour), ideally 1,000 to 2,000 words. Payment from $25 to £400+. Target audience is mainstream middle-aged American. Simultaneous submissions accepted. Response time is just 3-6 weeks.
  • Norfolk-based (UK) annual literary magazine The Savage Kick seeks submissions that will “make readers sit up and listen”. Short stories / novel excerpts (<6000 words) or articles / interviews (<3000 words). Response times are quick (aim <2 weeks!) but payment rates low £20 stories / £15 articles/interviews. They recommend you read the magazine before submitting.
  • Short Stories For Women takes, as the name would suggest, short women’s fiction (500-4,000 words). :)
  • Sollitary Magazine takes poetry, non-fiction, and fiction. Although Mexican, you don’t have to be.
  • California-based Three Penny Review welcomes fiction (max 4000 words) and poetry (max 100 lines). Payment US$400 per story / article, US$200 per poem plus year’s free subscription.
  • Canadian Tin House is looking for fiction (one story per submission), poetry (five poems max) and ‘economical, cultural and environmental’ non-fiction. Simultaneous submissions accepted.
  • Untied Shoelaces Of The Mind is an online magazine that acquires fiction in many genres and pays USc3 per word (up to US$30). Submissions via the website’s form only, not by email or post.
  • What The Dickens magazine is actively looking for fiction, poetry, non-fiction and articles.
  • Womagwriter’s blog http://womagwriter.blogspot.com is one of the best places I know for women’s magazine short story (and others) guidelines.
  • The Yellow Room welcomes submissions of short stories by UK women writers.
  • Other short story opportunities include The Fiction CircusStand Magazine.

If you do have any more information that could go on this page or find any broken links, old information etc., please email me.

And I’ve added a new sub-page (opportunities on this blog) which details the opportunities on my blog, you just need the questionnaire for your genre. :)

***

You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything… and follow me on Twitter where each new posting is automatically announced. You can also read / download my eBooks and free eShorts at SmashwordsSony Reader StoreBarnes & NobleiTunes BookstoreKobo and Amazon, with more to follow. I have a new forum, friend me on Facebook, like me on Facebook, connect with me on LinkedIn, find me on Tumblr, complete my website’s Contact me page or plain and simple, email me.  I also now have a new blog creation service especially for, but not limited to, writers.

Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) :) on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are fortnightly episodes, usually released on Sundays, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.

 
 

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