Every Day Fiction

Wednesday, November 28, 2007, 7:12 PM

I got an email today that cheered me up. My short-short story called OPENING TIME will appear in Every Day Fiction at some point in the future (they're to let me know when).

Every Day Fiction is a zine that specialises in Flash Fiction, short stories of 1000 words or less. Mine clocks in at about 500. They email a piece once a day to their subscriber list, as well as posting them online. It's a good idea, and a great way to leverage technology for the good of the short story.

If I may blow my own trumpet a little, the editors had this to say about my piece:

"Perfectly crafted voice maintained all the way through. The one-sided dialogue is so nicely done that you can almost hear the other man's responses."

"Very well done, deftly handled prose. Gives a wonderful idea of this man's character, told in an original voice."

Visit them at http://www.everydayfiction.com/.

PS - Thanks to Betsy for her notes on this piece. :)


Tom G's Bench

Saturday, November 24, 2007, 6:25 PM

I've not gotten round to a proper post on my recent New York trip (and it grows less recent by the day) but here's one thing I really wanted to share. In Central Park, they have an Adopt-a-Bench scheme whereby you can donate anything from $7500 upwards and have a plaque put on the bench of your choice with your own inscription. Most of them, as you'd expect, are dedications to loved ones, or corporate messages. But one in particular caught my eye. I'd like to thank Tom G, whoever he is, for making the smile I had on my face at the time even bigger.


Happy Thanksgiving...

Thursday, November 22, 2007, 10:08 PM

...to all my friends from across the pond. I'm currently sick (and as you all know, there is nothing more severe than Man Sick), so you'll all have to have extra helpings on my behalf.

Help! What do I write next?!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007, 9:23 PM

I've been a very lazy boy and haven't put any effort into pitching the last novel apart from a couple of tentative queries a few weeks ago. I got a nibble or two, but no cigar. Now, having given the novel one more going over, I'm ready to start querying seriously.

In the meantime, I've recharged my batteries after not writing much of anything for a while, and I'm ready to have another go. Problem is, I can't decide what to write next. I've got four pretty solid ideas (actually, I've got more, but these are the one I want to tackle) that I'm torn between. Two are deliberate attempts at something more commercial, while one is very dark, and the fourth plays into my own personal interests (it's got guitars in it!).

So, I'd like some help. I'm looking for some volunteers to read the short 'pitch' I've written for each and see which one, if you were in a book shop, you would take to the counter. If you'd like to take part and earn my eternal gratitude, just email me at info@stuartneville.com (or leave an email address in the comments) and I'll send you back a link to where you can read all four.

I'll see how it goes, but if people think that's too much kerfuffle sendng emails about, I'll post the link temporarily in the comments trail.

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Ira Levin

Thursday, November 15, 2007, 9:19 PM

I just discovered via agent Lori Perkins' blog that Ira Levin died this week. Although not prolific, he managed to write some tremendous novels, often with entirely bonkers concepts (Mengele makes baby Hitlers! Lapsed Catholic girl makes baby Satan! Suburban men make robot babes!). He carried these ideas off with such unflinching disregard for 'believability' that the reader has no choice but to be swept along.

Rosemary's Baby is one of the finest horror novels ever written, with an ending so creepy it'll linger with you long after you've finished the book. It also happened to make one of the finest horror movies too, and even after forty years it remains a lesson in the power of subtlety in expressing the unspeakable. When I visited New York recently I spent a little while gazing up at the Dakota building, and while mindful of its place in Beatle history, it was really the The Bramford I was seeing.

Sigh. I guess I'll have to crack out my well-thumbed paperback of Rosemary's Baby and give it another whirl.

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Seeking Recommendations...

Monday, November 12, 2007, 8:04 PM

I'd like to read some good quality commercial crime novels, preferably set in New York. Doesn anyone have any recommendations? Nearest thing to that I read lately was Interpretation of Murder, which I enjoyed a lot, but it was set a century ago. Anybody have anything more up to date?


The Conduit Lectures Gazumped!

Saturday, November 10, 2007, 2:07 PM

Thanks to Nathan Bransford for highlighting this series of articles by Barry Eisler. Mr Eisler has posted three articles on MJ Rose's blog which arrive at more or less the same conclusion I was building to in my How to Fix the Publishing Industry ramblings.

There are two key improvements over my posts, however.

1) Barry Eisler appears to actually know what he's talking about.

2) Barry Eisler has made his arguments in a reasoned and concise set of articles, rather than my random blathering.

Mr Eisler drops the ball on one significant element, though, and it almost destroys his entire point: he forgot to include Dinologue. How can anyone make a serious point without the use of dinosaur analogies? Really, Barry Eisler, this is just not good enough. I expect to see dino discussions in all future articles.

Because of Mr Eisler's omission, I intend to continue with the Conduit Lectures regardless of his doing the same thing only better. But with Dinologue.

A question for New Yorkers...

I had asked this question (as research for a short story) in the comments of my last post, but I'll repeat it here for those that missed it:

As a New Yorker, would you know off the top of your head who the Deputy Mayors are? Would you know their names and positions? Would you know what their individual offices are for? Right now, without looking it up, would you know who the Deputy Mayor for Administration is, and what he/she looks like?

Thanks to Cyn for already chipping in on this. :)

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Conduit Takes Manhattan - Part 1

Wednesday, November 07, 2007, 6:47 PM

So, I just back from my brief holiday in New York yesterday. After sleeping a solid twelve hours last night, I've gathered together a few of my favourite photographs from my trip (click on any to see them at 800x600px - all copyright Stuart Neville 2007 - please ask permission before using elsewhere) along with some random observations about the Big Apple. I'll write something more in depth towards the weekend, but for now...

My first encounter

After the adventure of getting the train from Newark Airport to Penn Station, and then getting the subway out to Queens, I made my way back to Manhattan and exited Penn Stations at 33rd and 8th. This was my first view of the city, with Madison Square Garden right in front of me and the Empire State Building towering over 33rd Street. I just stood there for a while, filled with what can only be described as childish glee. You can just make out the Sabrett's umbrella to the left, which brings me to...

Hot Dogs Rule

How have I lived my whole life without ever tasting a hot dog? I was a little peckish having only airline food in my belly, so thought I'd give one of these a go. Oh, the glory of the hot dog with ketchup. I'm sure they're all sorts of bad for you, but they taste so good. Anyway, having chewed and swallowed that new experience, I started walking towards the tower.

King Kong's View

It was late afternoon when I got to the Empire State, and after queueing for a good twenty minutes, the sun was going down when I reached the 82nd floor. I took about a hundred photos, but here are just two...

Sunset over New Jersey

The Chrysler Building

Serenity and the City

One of many remarkable things about New York is that it's full of little places of serenity (and some not so little). Here's a beautiful little garden where Bleecker Street meets the Avenue of the Americas...

And, of course, there's Central Park where I spent a whole day relaxing...

Washington Square Park was a nice little oasis, too, and here's one of its surprisingly fearless residents who came to say hello...

My Favourite Quiet Place...

...was Roosevelt Island. The Tramway is an experience in itself, and the views of Manhattan from the promenade are nothing short of spectacular. But it's the peacefulness of it that sticks with me...

While I was there, a young woman with olive skin and dark flowing hair passed me and gave me a shy smile. I didn't have the nerve to ask her for a photograph, but I sneaked one as she walked along the promenade. It turned out to be my favourite photo of the whole trip...

Cool Buildings

As well as all the landmarks, some of the ordinary buildings just look great...

And I really, really, really wish I lived here...

Other Sights

As I had lunch at an Italian place by the Brooklyn Bridge, a movie or TV show was being filmed just outside. It looked like some sort of detective thing. Anybody recognise the guy in the overcoat?

Of course, I did the Staten Island Ferry thing. The sun was setting on my way back, and I got this view...

I am Lord of the Subway, Master of the E Line

This is the thing I was most nervous about, especially using it at night. I've used underground systems in London and Barcelona, but the New York subway has a certain reputation. I needn't have worried, though, as New York turned out to be about the easiest city to get around of any I've visited. And there were more people on the E train to Queens at midnight than there were at midday. Incidentally, as I took the picture above waiting for the train from Lexington 51st to 59th, someone on another platform with a beautiful tenor voice was singing 'Bridge over Troubled Water' and it sounded like it was coming up from the centre of the earth.

New York Narcolepsy

This seems to be a common condition on the subway. As soon as some people get on the train, they conk out. Including several people who somehow managed to fall asleep while standing up, yet maintain their balance on a moving train. I know this is a mechanism for avoiding the dreaded eye-contact, but I found it somewhat comical ... until it started happening to me. Looking anywhere but people's faces is bloody tiring, so it's easier to just to close your eyes and drift.

What Monkeys Are For

As any educated person knows, monkeys were put on earth for one reason: to make us laugh. Here are some monkeys at the Bronx Zoo who fail to fulfil their basic purpose by succumbing to New York Narcolepsy...

The gorillas, however, did their best to entertain. Then again, they don't have to try so hard. Because they kind of look like people.

In conclusion (for now)

I was left with one thing about New York, one question: how can such an unimaginably huge place seem so small? I suppose it's the feeling of being enclosed as you walk through its canyon-like streets, and being able to get from one side to another in just minutes. While you're within its streets and subways, you have no sense of its scale. And that adds to its immediacy, the sense of here and now and nothing else. More observations to come...