The Magic of Bowen

There’s something about Bowen Island that feeds the writer’s soul, and this magical place, a stone’s throw across the water from Horseshoe Bay, is central to the very existence of Pulp Literature.outdoorsI first went there to write over a decade ago as part of Dale Adams Segal’s writing retreat through Langara.  Her Hour Stories cards were a breakthrough for me, allowing me to muffle my harsh inner critic and revel in the joy of storytelling.  And my early morning walks through the quiet, misty woods near Snug Cove allowed me to empty my mind and let stories pour in.  Without that retreat, I’m not sure I would ever have written a novel — or even another short story.

Allaigna 1 croppedA year later I returned to The Lodge at the Old Dorm with some of the attendees, and we hosted our own informal retreat.  There, curled up on the luxurious bed in the Lady Cecilia room, I wrote the first lines of Allaigna’s Song: “If you walk down the grand staircase of Castle Osthegn, you will see a family portrait …”

If I hadn’t mentioned that writing holiday to Mel — who has lived on Bowen much of her life — I would never have known she was a writer too, she would not have introduced me to Sue, and the three of us would never have begun writing together using the Hour Stories.  Our writing sessions together have produced the drafts of all three Allaigna novels, the delightful Stella Ryman and the Fairmount Manor Mysteries series, Mel’s new mystery series The Seven Swans (see Issue 9!), Sue’s captivating historical novel about Esther, and many of the exquisite short stories you see from her in the pages of Pulp Literature.

Winter 2014 cover proofBut perhaps the largest creation to emerge from one of our writing sessions was the magazine itself.  After a productive morning writing at Mel’s place on Bowen, the idea for Pulp Literature sprang almost fully formed:  like Venus rising from the sea below the sunny deck where we drank our beer and supped on the inspiration of trees and wind and ocean.

Maybe Pulp Lit could have been born in Sue’s welcoming home, or my chaotic one, or even on the ethernet waves of Skype where we meet so often.  But I tend to think the vital spark came from the magic of the island itself.  Which is why we held our first Year of the Muse Retreat there this year, and why I’m so delighted to be returning in January 2016.alexandra

Fellow writers, I hope you’ll join us at the place where it all began, to steep your writing in the magic of Bowen.

The Muse Revisited
An all-inclusive writers retreat surrounded by natural beauty, with gourmet meals, luxurious rooms, and good company.
The Lodge at the Old Dorm
Bowen Island BC
8 – 10 January 2016
Register here

The writing table. Photo by Rosie Perera


Yes, you can shop ethically, support the arts, and save money!  On Cyber Monday save up to 50% on back issues, colouring books and subscriptions. These deals are available November 30th only, and print issues are available in limited quantities.  Don’t delay — get your holiday shopping done here!

Autumn harvest

Black Book Friday

This year, I’m putting my money where my mouth is.  Or where my pen is.  This year, I’m only giving gifts that are locally sourced and produced, artisan gifts from people whose hands I can see and possibly have shaken, products which support the literary community to which I belong.  Yes, I’m giving about everyone I know a copy of Pulp Literature, or Mel’s wonderful collection of illustrations, Colouring Paradise.Colouring book

Black Friday is the day most North Americans head to the mall (my husband spells that “maul”) to go into debt, forking over money which often leaves the country, for products which will be obsolete in a few years.  We humbly suggest buying small and buying local, buying intelligently and artistically, buying to sustain the professions that require patronage in our own front yards.

When you purchase a copy of Pulp Literature, you support a registered Canadian Non-Profit that returns 100% of proceeds towards the content creators.  You also purchase hours of entertainment that will linger in your mind satisfactorily, appreciate gracefully on your bookshelf, and add no calories whatsoever.

The best part?  Our books can be mailed as gifts on your behalf to friends anywhere in the world by Christmas … no maul required.

Order Colouring Paradise, Pulp Literature and other gifts here!

Pulp Literature Year 1 & 2

Colouring book

Colouring Paradise is a go!

Thank you to all the wonderful backers who funded our Kickstarter campaign to make Colouring Paradise a reality!  We quite literally cannot do this without you.

The files are at the printer, and we should have the print proof in our hands this week.  After that, it’s just a matter of time before the printed copies are in your hands and the pdfs in your inbox!

If you missed the Kickstarter campaign but still want a copy of Mel’s gorgeous new colouring book you can still get in on the action via Backerkit.  This platform enables us to offer the reward items as pre-orders.  The page goes away after December 15th, so don’t delay, do your holiday shopping today!

Pre-Order on Backerkit Now

Some of the cool things you can get on the page:

  • Sweet deals on multi-year subscriptions and back issues
  • Print or pdf versions of Colouring Paradise
  • Notecards (perfect for thank-yous, holiday messages & gift enclosures)
  • A portrait by Mel of you or a loved one
  • Editorial critiques, writing courses and mentorships
  • A luxurious writers’ retreat on Bowen Island BC!Colouring book

Backerkit is a new platform for us, so please do let us know what you think!

all the best,

Jen, Mel & Sue





Announcing the Winner of the 2015 Raven Short Story Contest

As chosen by Brenda Carre, our final judge for the Raven Short Story Contest, here are the winners.

  • First place: ‘Black Blizzard’, Emily Linstromsmallpenandink
  • Runner-up: ‘Lament for iCarus’, by Patrick Bollivar
  • Honourable mention: ‘Flight of the Gods’ by Brent Kellmer

A master of many genres, judge Brenda Carre writes fantasy, science fiction, and historical short stories and novels, as well as spicy historical romance under the pen-name Tess Cornwall.  Her short fiction has appeared in Fantasy & Science Fiction, Fiction River Anthologies, and The Blacklist anthology to name a few.  Her recent novelette, Finnraziel, can be found in The Edge of Never paranormal romance collection.  Here’s what she had to say about the entries: Continue reading

book &Pen small

Nurture your Craft

small writerWriting is a solitary pursuit, often performed in a what seems like an echo chamber.  We write, re-read, re-write, with only our (often negative) self-critic there to give us advice.  But it doesn’t have to be that way.  The feedback received from an editor can be a lifeline when we’re drowning in the quagmire of self-doubt and circular thinking.

We’ve been there; we know what it’s like.  For Mel, Jen, and Sue, it’s the feedback from each other and from our amazing copy-editors and proofreaders — Amanda Bidnall, Dana Tye-Rally, Mary Rykov and Katie Howard — that keep our manuscripts on track and our heads on straight.  That’s why we’re offering three rewards on our Kickstarter especially for fellow writers.

Manuscript SOS

Need some editorial guidance?  Whether you want developmental and structural advice or detailed line-edits, we’re here to help.  Send us a single novella-length work all at once or three or four shorter pieces throughout the year, and we’ll give you an editorial critique plus a second post-revision editing pass on up to 80,000 words.  The reward also includes the Colouring Paradise colouring book and a print subscription to Pulp Literature – that’s a $500 value for only $300!

Twelve-week online writing course

Struggling with getting the words down?  Need to add some zing to your prose?  Write three new short stories or three sections of your work-in-progress in our Skype-in writing sessions, and we will help you hone and polish them in our four-step editing process till they are publication-ready.  As well as the colouring book and subscription, the course includes a minimum of three Hour Story sessions by Skype, and three editing stages of at least one piece by our in-house professionals:  structural editing, line-editing, and proofreading.  All this for only $600!

Year-long mentorship


If this is the year you truly want to make a quantum leap in your writing, consider a mentorship.  On top of everything included in the 12-week course, our mentorship program features continuing editorial feedback, a monthly Hour Stories session, submissions guidance, editing tutorials and — possibly the most important ingredient in the solitary career of a writer — collegiality and moral support.  Normally this level of mentorship is available for $120 a month through our Patreon page, but for the Kickstarter we are offering it at $1200 for whole year.  That’s only $100 a month!

Support and constructive critique is the fuel that feeds your Muse.  Thank her for her gifts by treating her — and yourself — to some well-earned soul food!

raven with branch

The Long and Short of the Raven Contest

We were thoroughly impressed with the quality of stories we received for this year’s  Raven Short Story Contest.  It seems as if each contest we run pushes the bar higher.  To choose our long list all three editors read the entries and give them a ‘yes’, ‘no’ or ‘maybe’.   The ‘maybe’s are crucial, because a ‘yes’ is worth two points and a ‘maybe’ worth one.  Our long list is then made up of every story that received at least two points — meaning at least one editor liked it a lot, or at least two editors thought it had potential.standoff

This is important, as we want to give our final judge, Brenda Carre, a broad selection of stories to choose from.  Fiction is so subjective, not just from person to person, but from day to day.  Sometimes a story that doesn’t grab you one night may captivate you on the second read because you’re in a different mood.  So here is the longlist, made up of the twenty-six stories we felt had winning potential: Continue reading


Colouring Paradise: Andy Warhol and White Space

detail colouring paradiseThis little girl from the late 15th Century is looking out at something none of us can see, the moment before deciding whether to step out there (where?) or stay where she is.

Deciding how much white space to use in a colouring book is always a question. Too much and it’s a bore. Too little and there’s no room for a colourist to bring light and shape to the source.  I looked to Andy Warhol’s colouring book, made in the eighties, for guidance.  I found white space galore, and a generous note at the back from Warhol saying frame these if you like. 

I like.  Thanks for the inspiration, Andy!


Get the full version of this colouring page in our upcoming coloring book, Colouring Paradise, live on Kickstarter till November 18th.

2poppies colour

Lest We Forget

Normally at this time of year it’s usual to see poppies for sale outside supermarkets and on street corners.  For some reason this year, poppies have been few and far between.  So for all you who haven’t been able to find one, here’s a pair by Mel.  Whether you leave them white or download and colour them is up to you.  Either way, please consider dropping a coin your your local Legion box to support our veterans.2poppies

Click on the poppies for a free downloadable pdf.  And if you do colour them, we’d love to see the results!

Jen, Sue & Mel



Colouring Paradise: Angel Over Castle

I love the look in this angel’s eye.  The late 15th century model was a peripheral funereal bronze by the del Pollaiuolo brothers.  When I made her central in a composition she seemed to take the weight of the world upon her —  by choice, I think.

I’ve adapted her a bit from my original inking to make her more fun to colour.  It’s important to have great light spaces and shape-able curves, as in the clouds that surround her, as well as the intricate bits in her dress and wings.  And to be able to choose from the prism of a colour box for the uplift of light around her.  The magpie wing palm is one of my favourite trees — it’s a palm tree I feathered, for fun.

I hope you like the book. Thanks for the encouraging reviews and for checking out our Kickstarter page for Colouring Paradise: a Renaissance Inspired Colouring Book for Adults & Kids.