Something Novel this way comes …

Have you heard the news?  Pulp Literature is growing larger.  Or longer, rather.  That’s right, we are expanding into publishing full-length fiction!

stella-ad-pink-smallWe’ll be starting with heroes you know and love well: Allaigna and Stella from the pages of Pulp Lit.  With the help of a Kickstarter campaign set to launch at the beginning of November, we’ll bring you Stella Ryman and the Fairmount Manor Mysteries, a five-mystery arc as it was meant to be read in novel format, plus the complete text of  Allaigna’s Song: Overture with updated illustrations and maps.

If the Kickstarter campaign is a success, these two novels will be just the beginning.  We’ll be opening for novel submissions soon, with the aim of publishing ten books by up-and-coming genre writers before the end of 2018.

You can help make this a reality.  Here’s how

  1.  Visit our campaign on launch day, November 1st.
  2.  Back us on day 1, even if it’s only for a dollar.
  3.  Tweet, share on Facebook, and email your friends to do the same.

If we get 50 backers in the first two days of the campaign we have a secret bonus reward lined up.  What is it?  It’s secret (but we know you’ll love it).

allaigna-ad-smallNeed a reminder to visit the site on November 1st?

  • Just join our event page and Facebook will do the job of reminding you when the campaign starts.
  • Or add yourself to our newsletter email list and we’ll shoot you an email that day.

We’re excited and just a little bit nervous.  It feels like it did back in 2013 when we launched the magazine.  We hope you’ll join us on this next grand adventure!

Your Opening Image and Page One

small-camera As in the movies, the ideal opening image for novels and short fiction will be resonant and unique.  Or, as a perspicacious agent once said to me, “Why the bleep are you opening your story with a bunch of characters drinking beer in a pub?”

Take a look, for example, at the opening image of the 2007 film Once. The first scene nails time (night) place (empty city street — thus, an opposition, Dublin) the promise of genre (musical) and a hint at the central conflict, (a kind, talented man playing music in pain to an empty street, who clearly needs to get together with somebody).  The title letters come together, and we have the advent of the girl who likes his music.

There are plenty of books out there that nail time, place, tone, promise of genre, and a hint at the central conflict.  Of course, rules are meant to be broken — I’ve seen award-winners that begin with a two-page inner-voice rant. However, it’s a real pleasure to see instances where the five are nailed in the opening sentence, as in George Orwell’s 1984:  “It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.”

I suggest brainstorming 15-20 ways a story might begin.  And, because it’s a great help to us all, I must mention the biggest aid to writing an opening scene:  the closing scene. Whether the first seeds the second, or we’ve got a circular tale on our hands, the fabulous end to a tale is our best help to writing a brilliant and engaging beginning.

I hope you’ll have another brilliant writing day.

Cheers, Mel

muse smallThis week from @yourwritingmuseThere are no unimportant characters in your tale. Brilliant storytelling. From your Writing Muse

Due to the various power outages across the lower mainland right we’ll keep the Raven Contest open till midnight on Sunday.  Stay dry folks!

One Aspect of Pace in Storytelling: The Morian Pause

manwithhorsesmallSometimes we writers sense, despite careful plotting, that not enough is happening, when really what’s wanted is a pause.  Best selling Sci-fi author Kathy Tyers calls these pauses moments of beauty.  Here readers receive a valuable gift from the narrative: a little time to appreciate all that excellent work in character development.

Think of Tolkein’s Frodo, in the mines of Moria, resting in a moment of relative safety.  He has a chance to look around him at this terrible, beautiful world, and we’re privileged to hear him talk with Gandalf as in the old times back in the Shire.  Character development here is superbly satisfying, as we get a chance to see how the hero has changed since the days when he loved to listen to Gandalf’s stories, now that he’s in one.  And, at the end of that moment, while we’re deep in the beauty of their interaction, Frodo and Gandalf give us the exchange that will resonate to the end of the tale.  “What a pity that Bilbo did not stab that vile creature, when he had a chance!”  “Pity? It was pity that stayed his hand.  Pity, and Mercy: not to strike without need.”

The beauty and calm of such a moment, contrasted with the struggle ahead, achieves a double poignancy.  First, we may wish with Frodo that we could stay here forever, and our sympathy and fear for the hero grow stronger because we’ve shared this very private wish for peace with him.  Then, as he rises to take on the dangers ahead, we are even more on the hero’s side.  Taking time to write moments of beauty makes readers smile, and creates exquisite pace.

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

muse smallThis week from @yourwritingmuseYou keep track of the way each turning point affects the subplots. Clever work. From your Writing Muse

Storytelling Power

swordEditorial revisions will almost certainly be necessary for every story,  but we’ll be wise to approach editorial, whether paid or unpaid, from a position of storytelling power.  Stories that are not tightly revised for narrative structure before they’re sent to editors risk such broad-stroke suggestions as “You have too many characters, take most of them out.”  Or, impossibly narrow editorial desires such as “Give me a beginning like the first ten pages of MacDonald’s Lillith.”  Editors work hard to keep sharp and insightful, but when a book’s structure is very loose and tangled, we’ll look for any loose end to pull.  Just trying to help.

“No passion in the world is equal to the passion to alter someone else’s draft.”― HG Wells

All readers, of all ages, want and expect a resonant, flawed hero with whom to identify; an authoritative start, incluing time, place, tone, setting, promise of genre, and a hint at the central conflict; exchanges of power and non-linear, original adventures; a teeter on the edge of real or metaphorical death; transformation; and a final face-off and a satisfying resolution.  If we can keep our solid narrative structure outlines to hand — I like to call this, doing previsions — rather than simply drafting what comes next, then we give editors solid storytelling to edit.  Our second-round revisions will be simpler, and our readers will want more of our work.

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

Suprisingly gripping reads about editors: F Scott Berg’s ‘ Max Perkins, Man of Genius’ and James Thurber’s ‘The Years With Ross’

muse smallThis week from @yourwritingmuseEach of your supporting characters forces the hero to learn and grow towards the final conflict. Kudos from your Writing Muse


Issue 12 is here!

Even after 12 issues, there’s nothing like cracking open a fresh box from First Choice Books and admiring the stacks of freshly bound issues waiting to be delivered into readers’ hands.  We love that we can use a local printing house, and that they do such a beautiful job.

You can pick up your copy of Issue 12, Autumn 2016 in person this weekend at VCON, and if you’re lucky, get it signed by author Rhea Rose and cover artist Melissa Mary Duncan.  If you have time to stay around for a drink let us know — I’m sure there will be a few of us celebrating our 12th (!!) issue in the bar after the vendors’ hall closes.

img_4274For those of you who aren’t local, we’ll miss shaking your hands, but you can still order issue 12 at the pre-order discount till Friday night.

See you at VCON!

'The Story Teller' by Melissa Mary Duncan

Issue 12 launching at VCON 41

Autumn_2016_cover smallThe Autumn 2016 issue of Pulp Literature will be hot off the presses in time for VCON 41 at the Sheraton Guildford in Surrey this weekend.  Author Rhea Rose and cover artist Melissa Mary Duncan will be on site and available to sign copies, as will many other previous authors and artists such as CC Humphreys, Robert J Sawyer, Eileen Kernaghan, Anat Rabkin, Laura Kostur, Susan Pieters, and JM Landels.  And, as a special bonus, our Raven Contest judge Brenda Carre will be there — this is your chance to pick her brain and discover what she loves to read!

Issue 7 coverRhea, CC, Robert, Eileen, Brenda, and Jen all have readings and panels throughout the weekend (and Jen will be picking up swords as usual at the Academie Duello demo on Saturday evening), so be sure look up their schedules and track them down.

Issue 5

Issue 5

And of course visit our table at any time throughout the weekend.  Admission to the vendors’ room is free and we’d love to see you there!Winter-2014-cover-proof1

Taking the Next Step in a Writing Career

Goals get us up in the morning.  Before we rise, before the business of the world we’ve created takes over our day, we can remember that our great desire is to publish a shelf-load of stories, or to be a best-selling science fiction writer, or to write a character that will live as truly as Sherlock Holmes does.  And then ask:

What’s the one thing I need to do next? 

It might be to

  • create a unique setting for the next scene
  • make a supporting character force the protagonist to do what he’d never do (character development: see Donald Maass’s guides to writing)
  • find a better way for a character to stumble and pivot
  • write out the elevator pitch
  • write a jacket blurb
  • list 20 options for a better title
  • plan an overview of the development of a trilogy
  • draft the final paragraph of the story, even though it’s hardly begun

Whatever it is, our inner writer will be crafting it in our busy day, while we make tea, find our other shoe, fold the laundry, drive to the day job.  And create the writing career we wish for, one step at a time, in the right direction.

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

muse smallThis week from @yourwritingmuseThe body of work you’re creating now provides a solid foundation for your career.  Congratulations on achieving so much, and on having such an amazing journey behind and ahead of you.  From your fan, your Writing Muse

Success, While You Wait

pledge-smallSometimes it may seem as though success is a very slow mover.

We know our book is good.  We shop it here and there, without seeing much enthusiasm from editors, agents, or indie ebook lists.  We know that all we need is somebody to believe in us, and we wonder just when we’re going to arrive on that desk, that indie best-seller list, that review blog.

But, here’s something to consider.  If we were to arrive right now, is there a cache of work to put out there to please a burgeoning following?  Maybe we have lots of awesome work close to ready, or ready, to go. But if not — or, even if so — we’ll do well to welcome this calm before the storm of success as a gift from the muses.

Here, in this serene space, where nobody is demanding revisions, proofs, or interviews, we have the relatively uninterrupted opportunity to use our learning and gifts to make sure we have a topnotch skillset and a superb shelf of work to sell.  Our future selves will be most thankful for all this work accomplished, and even more, that we always believed in our own success.

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

muse smallThis week from @yourwritingmuseThe middle section of your story teaches every writer what energy is all about in storytelling. All good wishes for your continuing success, from your Writing Muse.