Friday Live Readings

The Pandemic, the Press, and You

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few months, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected you in some way. (If you have been living under a rock, stay there — it’s safer). For us at Pulp Lit, many things have not changed.  We’re writers and editors, and we like working at home in isolation — revel in it, even!

We have always conducted our business meetings virtually, and our day-to-day operations haven’t changed.  However Pulp Literature Press will feel the effects. Conventions, booklaunches, and retreats are an important part of what we do.  They get our books out in the community and let us engage with writers and readers in person.

This will be a hard year for us financially with so many event cancellations and the Canadian dollar plummeting due to oil prices.  It will be hard for our authors and artists too. We’ve already seen one of our favourite bricks and mortar stores, the Wylde Wood Collective, close its doors due to the crisis.  Here’s what we’re doing to help out our readers and our authors while keeping our non-profit press alive.

  • We have linked our Patreon income to scaling pay rates for authors and artists.  When we reach $200 a month (we’re almost there now), our maximum pay for short stories will increase to $0.08 per word and go up to $0.10 per word at $400.  You can see more details on the Patreon page.
  • We will be livestreaming readings from authors every Friday at 10am pacific time starting today!  Each week will feature three different authors who will read and answer questions from the audience between 10:00 and 10:30.

Today’s live line-up

Our line-up for today features the amazing trio of CC Humphreys, Laura Kostur, and Mel Anastasiou.

https://cchumphreys.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/image.jpg?resize=201%2C302CC Humphreys

He’s an actor, playwright, and fight choreographer. Oh, he’s also an award-winning novelist.  CC Humphreys is the distinguished 1st Issue feature author, appearing again in Issue 14. He’s a chimaera, like so many of our authors — and professional in every field (if his 17 published books and plethora of acting credits are anything to go by).

Laura Kostur

Born and raised in beautiful British Columbia, Canada, Laura Kostur finds inspiration from her surroundings and the wide variety of people drawn to the West Coast. Now employed in Communications with the Federal Government of Canada, Laura enjoy a job that allows her to write and edit every day, while interacting with a wide variety of people, and being of service to the public. When not at work, or working on her next novel, Laura can be found cutting and thrusting her way through classes at Academie Duello, a school of European Swordplay and Western Martial Arts. Laura currently works, fights and writes in Vancouver, British Columbia, where she lives with her husband and possibly a dog, if enough people pester the aforementioned spouse into letting her adopt one.

Mel Anastasiou

Acquisitions editor Mel Anastasiou co-founded Pulp Literature magazine in 2013. She helps writers develop through structural editing with the magazine, in addition to her weekly writing tips on melanastasiou.wordpress.com, the popular ‘Writing Muse’ twitter feed, and through her non-fiction workbooks, The Writer’s Boon Companion: Thirty Days Toward and Extraordinary Volume, and The Writer’s Friend and Confidante.  Her fiction includes Hertfordshire Pub Mysteries, the Monument Studio Mysteries, and the Stella Ryman Mysteries.  In addition she is the chief illustrator for Pulp Literature and has produced two colouring books of renaissance-inspired artwork: Colouring Paradise and Dragon Rock.

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Throwback Thursday: A Seed in Every Womb by Emilie Lonie

Each week we are taking a look back at the authors, stories, and poems that captivated us in 2019. Today we offer you an excerpt from ‘A Seed in Every Womb’ by Emily Lonie, from Issue 21, Winter 2019

A Seed in Every Womb

by Emily Lonie

My mother had little imagination and even less cash. Those with the means to self-design were free to conceive at any time, but the downtrodden squirreled away what they could and waited. On her forty-ninth birthday, my mother met with a Konzeption Consultant. She opted for Discount Package B, which entitled her to blue eyes, a standard double-walled heart, anti-lactic muscle coating, and one bonus maturity feature of her choosing. All seeds came with Biokinder’s lifetime health guarantee.

Perhaps my mother’s choice was a result of some cosmic prescience, but I suspect she picked at random from a list of features that were soon obsolete.  

In the early years, the radical right decried kreation, picketing Biokinder in a futile attempt to halt the future. But by the time I was born, no blue eye was organic. 

The weather changed when I was ten. Of course, there had been warnings for decades, but they went unheeded. We ignored and consumed and then we froze. Some were lucky — their parents had selected resistance to cold. I blamed my mother for having opted for the economical package. 

I received my first mandatory injection in the autumn of ice year one. The chair was clinical — a white metal frame with a simple plastic seat. I shifted and squirmed, unable to settle. My mother placed a steadying hand on my knee and smiled. A woman appeared in the doorway. She was tall, with delicate features and long, flowing blonde hair. Her slender frame was accentuated by a black figure-hugging pencil skirt that gave her an air of authority. 

“First time, sweetheart?” she asked. I nodded, buoyed by my mother’s reassuring smile. The injection was painful but brief. I would come to see it more as an annual inconvenience than a source of anxiety. 

Biokinder:  Natural, by Design. I read through the pamphlet as instructed. I learned that when a seedling comes of age, the maturity abilities begin to manifest. My overactive imagination conjured an array of spectacular possibilities, but any excitement I felt in that moment was immediately crushed by the reality of my mother’s circumstances. The option she had selected endowed me with Virusight, which had once been a valuable diagnostic aid. But in the years since I was conceived, disease had been eradicated in the general population. Careful engineering of the patented injection formula had rendered my ability useless. I was devastated. I wish I could take back the hateful things I said to her as we left the clinic.

My mother died on a snowy afternoon in July when I was fifteen. I could see the pride on her face as she waved to me that morning, promising to be there in the front row. When I crossed the finish line I searched the stands for her, but I felt only absence. 


Image result for emily lonieTo find out what happens next, pick up your copy of Issue 21, Winter  2019 here!

Emily Lonie is a professional archivist concerned with preserving the past, but in the evenings she enjoys exploring possible futures in her short fiction. She is thankful for the little bursts of inspiration that come out of nowhere and demand to be explored. Originally from Ottawa, she now lovingly calls Vancouver home. This is her first piece of fiction published in Canada.

New Poetry from David Troupes

As a poet, composer, and artist, David Troupes has scored a hat trick of creative possibility. It was our great delight to publish his poem ‘A Tree Slowly Rots’ in Pulp Literature Issue 25, Winter 2020. To read this haunting piece, which lingers like a smoke ring long after the final puff, order your copy here.

David has gifted us with a new poem, and we are thrilled to share it with you today.

Bones O’ Gold

by David Troupes

The January lacklight,
sleep and its moths, all the bodies

at the turrets, the bodies piled
along the walls. I walk

early to the streets, afghaned in star exhaust
with my aftermath heart.

Is this a forgiveness year? Excellent.
You are all forgiven.

I too: I
am forgiven, and I will stand in my depression joy,

browsing my fingers through this confetti
of world, awake and alive

and alive and awake, a sump
of sunlight,

a fountain
of blackest rebar. 


Image result for david troupesDavid Troupes has published two collections of poetry, Parsimony (2009) and The Simple Men (2012), and a selection of his work was featured in Carcanet’s New Poetries VI. From 2016 to 2018 he was Fellow of the Jerwood Opera Writing Programme, collaborating with composer Joel Rust on a science-fiction opera. Cambridge University Press recently published his monograph, Ted Hughes and Christianity. He produces a weekly comic strip called Buttercup Festival which can be read online at www.buttercupfestival.com. Born and raised in Massachusetts, he currently resides in West Yorkshire, England with his wife and daughters.

Throwback Thursday: Madame Sylvie’s Three Rules on Speaking for the Dead

Each week we are taking a look back at the authors, stories, and poems that captivated us in 2019. Today we offer you an excerpt from ‘Madame Sylvie’s Three Rules on How to Speak for the Dead’ by Susan Pieters, from Issue 21, Winter 2019

Madame Sylvie’s Three Rules on How to Speak for the Dead

My trailer door opens, letting in a burst of carnival noise. The ride next door must be dropping; the screams of teenagers sound like they’re inside my living room. Next year I’ve got ask for a spot farther from Hell’s Gate; as symbolic as the juxtaposition is, I get tired of listening to Dire Straits on the loudspeakers.

A new customer stands at the door. At least I hope she’s going to be a customer. She’s backlit by a setting sun. I get a good look at her before her eyes adjust to the trailer’s dim interior. Her skin is very dark and her close-cropped hair is greying at the temples. Her shoulders slump like life has defeated her. The baggy jeans bind at the waist.

She decides to step inside. The metal door closes, but the smell of popcorn now mingles with my bergamot incense.

I rise to greet her. My gold-plated necklaces hang forward as I bow. “Welcome to the House of Fortune. I’m Madame Sylvie.”

Her posture straightens. It’s funny how Canadians always stand taller when you bow to them. You’d think they’d tilt forward. 

“Hello, I’m Mary.” She reaches out for a handshake. Her grip is firm, her hands toughened; she must work hard. Her left hand stays tight around her purse, holding it protected at her side. She wears a plain gold wedding band.

I glance down as I release her hand. Her shoes have seen better days. I adjust my usual price even further downwards. “Would you like your fortune told, Mary? Please have a seat, and I’ll lay out the cards.” I gesture to the stack of tarot on the table, although I generally use them for giggling young ladies inquiring about love and marriage. The conclusions the girls draw from the pictures are highly amusing.

She shakes her head no, and looks at the bookshelf and my rows of old paperbacks. Most people never notice them. “I was told that you can talk to ghosts.”

I finger my gold bangles. “Of course Madame Sylvie can talk to ghosts.” I pause. “Are you being haunted?”

“Haunted?” Mary looks surprised.

“By a ghost?”

“No. I mean, not by a ghost. I mean, I wanted to talk to a ghost.” 

“Talk to a ghost, or to someone who has passed on to the other side? They’re not the same.” 

Mary looks at me like the difference has never occurred to her. “Oh, no, I just want to talk to someone who’s dead.”


To find out what happens next, pick up your copy of Issue 21, Winter  2019 here!

Susan Pieters is a founding editor at Pulp Literature Press. Her stories range from high-end literary to the weirdly fantastical; this story tries to put a foot in both camps, much as this magazine endeavours to cross genres. Sue swears she’s never visited to a fortune-teller herself but has always wanted to have a go. Hasn’t everyone? For more of Sue’s stories, find Tesseracts 20: Compostela, pick up any issue of Pulp Literature, or check out her forthcoming story in Analog.

Hands by Rebecca Ruth Gould

Reaching from the pages of Pulp Literature Issue 25, Winter 2020, ‘Hands’ by Rebecca Ruth Gould explores connection, time, and memory — and the elusive nature of all that we try to hold onto. We are pleased to share with you an excerpt from this captivating story. 

Hands

by Rebecca Ruth Gould

What struck her most about him were his hands. They were long and lanky, like his body. Even more remarkable than their shape was the way he used them. When they first met, he shook her hands boldly and directly, as if it were a perfectly normal thing to do and not a violation of the law in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Taken aback, she forgot to respond. Her hand hung limply in his palm until he dislodged it. 

Just the day prior, she had read about a poet who, after returning from abroad, had been arrested for shaking a woman’s hand. She wanted to warn him: You shouldn’t do that. You might end up in jail for shaking my hands. But he must have known what he was doing, she reasoned, and who was she to tell him how to behave in his own country?

His hands didn’t fit anywhere, not in his pockets or at his sides. They dangled oddly from his arms, like an expert swimmer more at home in a lake than on dry land. The lines on his palms were long, stretching from his wrist to his index fingers. If a fortune-teller — like the one she had just consulted with in Hafez’s tomb in Shiraz — had been asked to read his palms, she would have predicted for him a long life, a fulfilling marriage, and many children. His hands were like an autonomous body. She imagined them keeping her warm at night, soothing the aches in her back, providing a resting ground for her lips, caressing her hips. 

Before they said goodbye that magical night in Tehran, she asked him why he’d decided to shake her hand. Without answer, he waxed lyrical in a different direction. “I dream of working wonders with my hands,” he said. “I want to become a perfumist. I want to make magic potions and aphrodisiacs based on ancient Iranian traditions.” Although it was not an answer, it opened a new mysterious horizon onto his soul. She wanted to know more. 

To find out what happens next, pick up your copy of Issue 25, Winter 2020 here!


Rebecca Ruth Gould is the author of the poetry collection Cityscapes (Alien Buddha Press, 2019) and the award-winning monograph Writers & Rebels (Yale University Press). She has translated many books from Persian and Georgian. A Pushcart Prize nominee, she was a finalist for the Luminaire Award for Best Poetry (2017) and for Lunch Ticket’s Gabo Prize (2017). Visit her website here.

2020 Bumblebee Flash Fiction Contest Winner

As a fitting reminder to cut the suspense, a bumblebee buzzed past one of our editor’s windows today. From Bob Thurber, the humblest bumblebee we know, we have our winner:  Kate Felix with ‘Shayna’s Eulogy’, just edging out runner up Kim Martins with ‘Let’s Start with the Horse’.  The finalists were all so excellent that we editors couldn’t resist picking another, and the  Editors’ Choice goes to Mitchell Toews with ‘Piece of My Heart’.

To quote Bob Thurber: “A fine batch of finalists this year.  All of them fun to read and so interesting to ponder.”

Queen Bee Kate Felix brings home golden pollen to the tune of $300, and her story will appear in Issue 27, Summer 2020.  The runner up and editors’ choice stories may also be published if space is available.

As always, we thank the writers, readers, and judges who make these contests possible. Your hard work fuels this busy hive!

While you wait for these wonderful stories to appear in print, why not check out contest judge Bob Thurber’s newest anthology If You’d Like to Make a Call … Please Hang Up.  The title story first appeared in Pulp Literature Issue 12, and we’re delighted to see it out in the world again with siblings.

 

The 2020 Bumblebee Shortlist is Here!

How sweet it is to share with you the shortlist for the 2020 Bumblebee Flash Fiction Contest! The stories are judged blind, so it is always exciting to discover the authors who make the final round. The winner will be announced Sunday, March 15. For now, the final contenders:

‘Green, Green, & Green Again’ by Elaine Crauder

‘Let’s Start with the Horse’ by Kim Martins

‘No Shade’ by David R Yale

‘Parable’ by Meghan Romano

‘Piece of My Heart’ by Mitchell Toews

‘Shayna’s Eulogy’ by Kate Felix

‘The Devil’s Due’ by Natassia Orr

‘The Slippery Man’ by Hannah van Didden

‘Titrating’ by Jacky T

‘Trudy Takes Charge’ by Kate Felix

Congratulations to all the authors. And thank you for making judge Bob Thurber’s decision so deliciously difficult!

 

Throwback Thursday: The Fishmonger’s Wife

Each week we are taking a look back at the authors, stories, and poems that captivated us in 2019. Today we offer you an excerpt from ‘The Fishmonger’s Wife’ by Michael Bracken, from Issue 21, Winter 2019

The Fishmonger’s Wife

by Michael Bracken

At the bottom of the ‘Help Wanted’ sign in the fishmonger’s window, someone had written, ‘No Mermaids’. I flipped the collar of my navy pea coat up over my gills and went in to ask him why.

“It’s me wife, see,” said the fishmonger, a grizzled little man missing two fingers on his left hand. He cocked his head to the side as he took me in, from the dark woollen watch cap pulled tight over my ears all the way down to the duffel bag leaning against my sealskin boots. “Me wife she say they eats all the fishes. I got nothing but fishes, what’s the matter one or two little fishes go missing? I say me wife’s jealous.”

“Of mermaids?”

“Not just the mermaids she’s jealous,” the fishmonger said. His breath smelled of island rum. “She think all the women want me.”

“Do they?”

“All the time I’m here, how do I know for the women want me?” The fishmonger continued eyeing me. I stood half again as tall as he, with broad shoulders, thick chest, and powerful arms evident even though the pea coat covered my torso. “For why you come in here ask me about mermaids? You want for a job?”

I told him I did. I didn’t tell him the smell of fish intoxicated me.

“Why you want for a job?”

“I’ve tired of the sea.”

“What ship you be from?”

I named one that had just left port, a whaling vessel I had often seen in the North Sea.

“A name you got?”

“Morgen,” I said, from the Welsh meaning sea-born, though I doubt the fishmonger knew that. “Morgen ap Rhys.”

“Tomorrow you start,” he said.


To find out what happens next, pick up your copy of Issue 21, Winter  2019 here!

Michael Bracken, recipient of the Edward D Hoch Memorial Golden Derringer Award for lifetime achievement, is author of several books, including All White Girls and Psi Cops, and more than 1,200 short stories published in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Hot Blood:  Strange Bedfellows, The Best American Mystery Stories 2018, and many other anthologies and periodicals. He lives and writes in Texas. Visit him at www.CrimeFictionWriter.com or on Twitter @CrimeFicWriter.

A Parable of Things That Crawl and Fly

This week from the  Winter 2020 issue, we’re featuring  ‘A Parable of Things That Crawl and Fly’ by Graham Robert Scott and Wallace Cleaves. Be sure to read the entire story after picking up your very own copy of Issue 25 from the Pulp Literature bookstore!

A Parable of Things That Crawl and Fly

by Graham Robert Scott and Wallace Cleaves

Every hour, every minute, I hear the throaty, chuckling call of a raven. Sometimes He makes a showing. On the afternoon our unexpected visitors arrived, He appeared and gave me a disapproving look with one eye. I read the look as You should be working, Helen. I gave Him side-eye: Even the turtles rest, Raven. I’d been on break for two minutes.

Far beyond Raven, past rows of unnaturally aligned palm trees, a plume of dust appeared on the road, the signature of a distant oncoming car foregrounded against foothills of umber and sienna. Neither Gabe nor I said anything about the approaching vehicle, though cars rarely came this way. Instead, Gabe tilted his spotted, bristly head toward me, slid a toothpick from one side of the mouth to the other, and flashed me a grin so I’d know a joke was coming.

“Met this guy, oh, would have been eleven years ago.” Gabe’s voice, a rich, dark timbre from a lifetime of smoking, has always reminded me of cracked leather. Thanks to a lifetime of field work, his skin did, too. “I was nursing a railway lager in this desert bar called Mama Jane’s—one of those places with pickups out front and semis clumped like Tetris blocks out back—and this dude drags himself onto the stool beside me. Bone tired. Eyes deep-seated. Hollow. Complexion, hair, facial structure of a full-blooded indigenous man. Which may have, I admit, prompted an involuntary snort on my part.”

I said nothing at this. I’m not always nice to reconstitines either. It’s not their fault, of course. Not anyone’s fault, really. Once folks realized they could swap out of their children’s DNA any trace of the white folks who had raped their way into the family tree, anyone who wasn’t an asshole thought that made good sense. But like other customs born of good intentions, the reconstitine practice got a bit carried away. Some faces have social capital. In time, families who had been white for generations, with no tribal affiliations or knowledge of Native cultures, were having kids who looked pre-Columbian. If it came down to splitting hairs, my problem wasn’t so much with the kids; my problem was with what they represented. But on my face, in the tone of my voice, it came out a lot like I didn’t like them, and I had long ago stopped apologizing for it.

“Of course, he heard me,” Gabe said, “so I felt obligated to apologize—”

Wuss.

“—and when he was cool about the whole thing, I felt maybe I owed him a conversation.”

Grandmaster wuss.

The car came to a stop in the middle of the road for no apparent reason. I wondered whether someone was fiddling with directions, having an argument, necking in the backseat, taking a nap. Dust in the car’s wake settled onto tree branches, created plumes of spinning motes in waning sunlight.

“Turns out, my new friend was tired on account of a sick kid. Which, of course, meant now I had to ask about his boy. And that’s how I learned that, when he and his wife—also reconstituted—named their son, they wanted to use authentic Native American naming practices.”

“Oh, God,” I said.

“You know, those descriptive names. Drinks from Bottle. Eats with Ketchup. Fills a Diaper.”

Gabe knows this sort of thing makes me mutter. I’m only an eighth Tongva, but I’m a documented member of the tribe. Focused my whole life studying our culture. Three books. A career of public lectures and one film documentary. Thirty peer-reviewed articles. In the back room of the house, eleven cryocasks with minds bequeathed to my one-woman institute by passing elders. When I wasn’t listening to Gabe or the Raven, I listened to the minds, almost eleven hours a day. Tried to provoke memories with auditory, visual, olfactory cues. Tried to find evidence of what we used to be while it still existed. For decades, I’d been driven by the sense that I owed that to the relatives who once lived and thrived here. But even with the caskets and the minds in them, the work was hard. Memories deteriorated. Became closed off, inaccessible, harder to provoke. Turned out it was easier to summon up the faces of the past than to conjure their stories.

In the distance, the car started up again.

“This didn’t really happen, Gabe,” I said.

He gave me a look, daring me to contradict his tale. Then he continued. “Guess what they named their first son.”

Ugh. “Stands with DNA?”

“Only Child.”

He paused and waited, casual as the sun stretching its rays.

“They named their first son Only Child,” I clarified.

His grin revealed teeth. Right. Reconstitine couples sometimes needed pointers on birth control.

“Fine, I’ll bite. What did they name their second son?”

“Last Child.”

I choked on my tea. “Sounds like only one of those was accurate.”

“Oh, hell,” Gabe said. “Neither was. Third time around, they said fuck it and named her Sarah.”

As the car hummed into the driveway of our farm and slid to a stop on a blanket of leaves, Raven—who had not moved this entire time—let out a throaty warble.

Gabe ignored the bird or didn’t hear Him. Instead, he gestured at the car. “Speaking of reconstitines.”


To find out what happens next, pick up your copy of Issue 25, Winter 2020 here!

Graham Robert Scott is an English professor at Texas Women’s University, where he teaches writing and the occasional speculative fiction literature class. His stories have appeared in Nature, Barrelhouse, and X-R-A-Y Literary Mag. He has been collaborating with Wallace Cleaves on academic and creative projects for decades, and they are already at work on a new story.

Wallace Cleaves is Associate Professor of Teaching and Associate Director in the University Writing Program at the University of California at Riverside. He also teaches courses in medieval, Renaissance, and Native American literature. He is a member of the Tongva (also known as Gabrieleno) Native American community.

2020 Bumblebee Flash Fiction Longlist

Short, but oh so sweet, the longlisted stories for the 2020 Bumblebee Flash Fiction Contest have got us buzzing with joy! From a swarm of entries, these stories soared above with their tasty literary delights, and have got us humming with anticipation for the shortlist, to be announced mid March.

Here are the authors, presented in alphabetical order by first name:

Alexandra Nayeli Alfonseca de la Cruz
Barbara Stowe
Cathy Kirby
Chelsea Comeau
Cheryl Skory Suma
David R Yale
Eamonn Harrigan
Echo Nguyen
Elaine Crauder
Eric Chandler
Gail E Taylor
Hannah van Didden
Jacky T
Karen Baker
Kate Felix
Kate Felix
Kerry Craven
Kim Martins
KT Wagner
Laura Kuhlmann
Lee K Freitag
Lezlee Ware
Linda Walsh
Meg Roberts
Meghan Romano
Michael Jess Alexander
Mitchell Toews
Natassia Orr
Patrick Douglas Legay
Pierre Magdelaine
Robert Georgi
Thomas Kenneth Anderson
Zoe Crowest

(If an author’s name appears more than once, they have multiple stories under consideration.)

Congratulations to all, and we wish you the best of luck in the next round!