Notebooks and Novelists

Untitled 2Novelists carry notebooks. It’s a symbol of the job, like a 1940’s journalist’s fedora. So, it’s lucky that we love stationery.  We get to spend lots of time trying new notebooks for size and paper quality and how they fit in our carryall, and whether we want one that is pocket-sized so we don’t have to carry that carryall all the time.  That’s what I call shopping fun.  Especially when it’s clearly necessary to go looking for an ideal writers’ carryall.

All the advice to writers I’ve ever read on notebooks says “Write down your excellent ideas.”  I agree, to a certain extent.  But given our busy lives and writing careers, we must consider that we don’t want a book of ideas so much as we want a book.

What if we jot any random yet great ideas in the back of the notebook, perhaps, but use the front to write outlines and character arcs and lists of 20 ways a turning point might take place?  In that way a notebook helps writers make progress on the present story as well as future volumes.  Ten-minute outlines in a notebook serve us beautifully when we come to draft the next scene.

I hope it’s another brilliant writing week for you.

Cheers, Mel


Summer is Coming!

With summer, come lazy days on the beach, in the garden, or in transit to your holiday escape.  Wherever you find yourself this summer, you’ll want a cold drink in one hand and a good book in the other.  To help you stack your sidetable we’re offering a $2 discount on pre-orders of Issue 11, featuring Matthew Hooton, Robert Jeshonek and the last episode of Allaigna’s Song: Overture, due out July 1st, just in time for Canada Day!

Issue 11 cover smallIssue 11, Summer 2016



And if you need reading material before July, we’ve dropped the prices on for our Summer 2014 and Summer 2015 issues to $2.99 each for the month of June as well.  Stock up your e-reader and save!

Issue 7 cover

Issue 7, Summer 2015

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Issue 3, Summer 2014

Three Ways to be Brilliant, 10 Minutes at a Time

Untitled-1It’s hard not to feel the pinch of vital activities, pleasant and otherwise, that appear have little or nothing to add to our writing careers.  Our weeks are demanding.  But if we are to be writers, we need to keep our minds engaged with the writing process throughout the busy week, even if it’s only for a few valued moments in the day.

Here are three ways to be brilliant, 10 minutes at a time.

  • Search for an exchange of dialogue. Take out all the thinking this or doing that and isolate the actual dialogue.  Identify and strengthen if possible the shift in power among those speaking, and move the reactions to before and after the dialogue.
  • Take a look at an especially descriptive bit.  If it doesn’t come during a how are we not what we were reflective moment, or during the POV character’s pursuit of his or her goal, consider moving it.
  • Read the first paragraph of your book, your chapter, or your scene.  Find the most vital sentence there.  Figure out how to move it to the start.  Do the same for the last page or paragraph of your book, your chapter, or your scene.  Figure out how to move the great line to the end.

Small but powerful revisions for the work-in-progress gain us steady progress, as we move closer to our writing goals with every busy day.

I hope it’s another brilliant writing week for you.

Cheers, Mel

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This Adventurous Writers’ World

I believe that there has never been a better time to publish an excellent book.Albertblack&white

Not too long ago, if you attended a writing conference, you would have been taking notes in a crowd of people all of whom had been writing on their own.  Many of us were pale as pasta princes and princesses, working away, waiting to be rescued by a galloping agent or editors.

Dear heaven, the shy, dedicated writer’s dearest dream might come true!  A gallant publishing company would take our book, market it with all the gathered experts making certain we succeeded, and all we had to do was keep thundering at the keyboard while our agent negotiated the European rights.

And it happened.  Still does happen.  We all know writers who land bigtime agents and publishers, and it happens more often than, say, we get the opportunity to marry royalty.

But whether our goals are to succeed in traditional publishing, indie, or a combination of the two, the great thing about this time in the life of the writing world is that we don’t have to wait to be rescued.  We don’t need to be magically changed into successful writers by outside forces.  We can hire editors, find beta readers, mentor others and gradually, or suddenly, become a successful writer through practices we control with intelligent time management that brings us a great attitude and a truly excellent book.

Hope it’s another brilliant writing day for you.  Cheers, Mel.

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Congratulate Magpie Winner, Nicola Aime!

Magpie Award final judge Diane Tucker has revealed the three gems which will have everyone standing in line to purchase their Issue 12 copy of Pulp Literature (so order it now)!  Our winners spanned the continent, from Newfoundland to California, yet we are secretly pleased that this contest (judged blind) was won by a local Vancouver poet.  And mainly we’re glad because we’ll get to raise a toast to her in person at the book launch!  Without further ado,  Diane’s comments:

All the shortlisted poems contain clever and even beautiful imagery, emotion precisely and originally expressed, and an extraordinary amount of chutzpah. There isn’t a timid piece in the bunch.  But these three, in my opinion, do the work best.

Magpie Award ($500) to Nicola Aime for  “Dumb Love”
Judged by the contest’s own standard –  “a fusion of musicality, imagery, feeling, and thought” – “Dumb Love” is the winner in this group of poems. Every syllable in it serves the music and the rhythm and the story. The poem’s sustained metaphor, or family of metaphors, is never cheesily over-used or descends into mere punning. The poem’s perfect juggle of swooning passion and subtle and sardonic humour makes it a love poem truer than most to actual human love.  I feel it wants to be recited with a resigned smile.  And through all of this it sustains its music.  It is the most seamless of the entries, the most polished and fully-realized piece of work.

First Runner-Up: ($50) Katie Vautour for “Military Survival Training”
This is a dense, stony, jagged poem, longish but laser-focused, patient and cold and terrifying.  It’s a controlled, drawn-out pain, like a night of sleep spent clenching one’s jaw. Waking doesn’t make it better… It’s going to stay lodged in my head and make me think twice before I eat rabbit again.

Second Runner-Up: ($50) Marnie Eldridge for “Man.hunt”
Almost a complete contrast to “Military Survival Training”, “Man.hunt” is a hugely loose, flailing, overflowing tsunami of a poem.  It works as well as it does because its seemingly rambling passages have a fine strong thread running through them… Its chaotic music and gorgeous, determined fierceness sustain the patient reader.

Congratulations again to all our fine poets, and especially to Nicola!


On the World Stage: Writers in the 21st Century.

Engaging in a writing career, like all great stories, is about transformation. We are writers in the 21st Century, taking our place alongside other authors on the world stage. Because that’s what the new century and its technology has brought: endless opportunities to publish. We’re all on the world stage. And it’s a crowded and busy one.

Once our work is published anywhere,  it’s up for good. Forget searching for validation (although reviews are very nice indeed.) We need to enjoy the satisfaction of publishing, or else why are we spending all this time and desire? Why are we not organizing our wardrobes or building entertainment shelving instead?

I’ll tell you why. Because it’s the greatest feeling in the world to wake up knowing that we’re going to do work we love today.

I hope you’ll have another brilliant writing week. Cheers Mel.


Magpie Top 10 Shortlist!

Congratulations to these wonderful poets for being selected as top picks for our Magpie Prize!  This is an impressive pool of talent, and we are honoured to have such an embarrassment of riches in our contest.  We will unveil the winner on Thursday, so stay tuned!  Our poets, in random order:

Jed Myerssmall magpie
Daniel Aristi
Jude Neale
Marnie Eldridge

Katie Vautour
Elizabeth Armerding

Ada Maria Soto
Susie Taylor
Nicola Aime
Ruth Daniell

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Meet the Judge: Bob Thurber

Pulp Literature invites short story writers from around the globe to enter our Hummingbird Flash Fiction Prize.  It’s a humdinger of a contest,  judged by one of the sharpest pens on the planet, Bob Thurber.

Nothing But TroubleBob’s a short story writer’s short story writer, yet his works could be printed on the backs of beer cans to make you laugh. (Hey, now there’s a good marketing idea…) His flash fiction frequently wins online kudos at 50-Word Stories and his story collections are available on Amazon. His gritty novel Paperboy is being re-released this month by popular demand.  Bob’s stories have been printed in issue 3 and issue 6 of Pulp Literature, and he’s agreed to be our feature author for Issue 12.  (Yeah, we’re fans.)

Bob has blogged advice about the “Anatomy of a MicroFiction” on his website, but we thought it better advertising to just give you a taste of his own medicine:

Guillotine Guys
The guillotine guys handed out silk neckties and scarfs to the men and jeweled necklaces to the women. These items had belonged to previous prisoners. To the families they sold Band-Aids and iodine, steel needles and surgical thread, all in a boxed set with a pamphlet full of bad advice.hummingbird5

Think you can do better? Don’t let Bob have the last word! Get those contest entries in to us ASAP.  $300 goes to the best short fiction we can find, up to 1000 words. The deadline is June 15th, but entries are limited to 300, so get yours in now.  Enter the Contest Here!

Beyond the First Book Horizon

DragonRocktitlepicsmallThis past January I watched Lady Gaga melt with tears on the Golden Globes as she received her acting award.  Her happiness reminded me of Frank Sinatra’s when he earned his Oscar for From Here to Eternity in 1955. Both these eminent and top-flight stars on the popular music scene had already received all the kudos an artist might expect in a lifetime. But they wanted the next thing, along with the first thing, and why should they not?

It takes hard work and grit to make it in a new arena. The singers’ preparation for acting – Lady Gaga with music videos, Sinatra with small roles in small films – went on at the same time they were creating their first bodies of work in music. Multitasking might have failed them, but preparation got them exactly where they wanted to be.

So if our writing goal is, sensibly, to finish this one darned beloved novel, it may be worthwhile to take time to think beyond one book:

  • to spend 15 minutes a day to visualize, identify with, and develop new skills.
  • to think beyond the odds, for big challenges brings big opportunities

Everything we do now towards that further vision will help us grow past this one book to live our ideal lives in our writing careers.

There’s never been a better time to be a writer. I hope it’s another brilliant writing day for you.

Cheers, Mel