The Pop-Up Writing Space

We most likely have, each of us, a dedicated writing office space of one kind or another. Here, seated or standing at our own desk, we often feel primed to begin. It’s almost like having a head start on the work. I hear some of us saying, as I have from time to time, I can only write when I’m alone in my office.

Still, charm of setting and pursuing a noble goal are not enough for storytelling, nor are they always enough for the writers who devise them. Just as the stories we’re writing demand transformation to hold a reader’s attention, our writers’ minds desire change to keep sharp.

Libraries.  Coffee shops.  Different areas in our homes.  If we consider devising pop-up writing spaces, should silence be a prerequisite?  Those of us who admire Jane Austen’s work know we’d be missing much had she required quiet.

A pop-up office won’t be as fab as our own perfectly — or madly — arranged private offices.  Especially office spaces we love with all our hearts.  But, even pleasures may fail to please when we settle into a favourite rut.  Our brains are our most important writing tools, and they thrive on change as much as comfort.

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

muse smallThis week from @yourwritingmuse:

You keep the goals for your writing career in plain view. A perfect guide for your continued success. Your Writing Muse

Stay up to date on all our writing tips and contest openings with our free monthly newsletter.

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The Bumblebee Closes Tomorrow!

In between your chocolates and champagne, don’t forget to send in your sweet and fizzy short stories to the Bumblebee contest, which closes tomorrow at midnight!

loveofficesgirl2And once you’ve checked that box off your to-do list, relax with some candles and bubblebath, enjoying Valentine’s day content in the knowledge our judges will fall head over heels in love with your story.

Entry guidelines here.

Stay up to date on all our contest openings with our free monthly newsletter.

In Praise of Stationery

pen2smallMaybe it’s the same for you, author:  I love stationery stores. Once inside, there comes over me a feeling of pleasant expectancy mixed with the urge to guard my own actions.  It’s the same kind of self-restraint with which I’d approach choosing three magical wishes.

The new notebook, the perfect pen, the …

I think writers love stationery stores because they are shops jam-packed with possibility, of white pages and dark ink that magically become something at once concrete and ethereal when they come into our hands.  Transformation is what storytelling is all about.

Great dreams and concrete goals fuel our writing energy and grow the amount of time we spend working on our manuscripts in progress.  At any rate, this is what I tell myself — that time spent among the pens and paper is actually time saved from procrastination.  And that, in a way, it’s our natural habitat.

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

muse smallThis week from @yourwritingmuseYou’ve got talent, persistence, and a great love of learning. Top success indicators, congratulations from Your Writing Muse.

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Blue Skies

Issue 14, Spring 2017

Planes, trains, automobiles, and mechanical bears carry us away this issue!

  • Bestselling author, actor, and swordsman CC Humphreys sets two strangers on a train ride in ‘The Ankle Bracelet’.  candy apple baby
  • Colin Thornton’s ‘Candy Apple Baby’ spins us out of control on the road.
  • Poetry from Ian Haight’s ‘Detroit’ takes us to the gritty streets of motor city.
  • Joseph Stilwell’s and Hugh Henderson’s graphic novel Blue Skies Over Nine Isles, soars to an intriguing post-post-apocalyptic future.
  • The protagonist of ‘Robin Hood’ by Susan Pieters takes a road she hadn’t planned to travel.
  • We’re stalked by two very different bears, in Greg Brown’s ‘Bear’ and William Charles Brock’s ‘Jonathan S Primrose Gets Eaten by a Bear’.
  • David Clink’s ‘Birdcage’ takes a suburban trip to the final destination.
  • There are two contest winners this issue.  Our Raven Short Story Contest champion Pat Flewwelling’s ‘The Handler’ is a superhero tale that doesn’t put a foot — or wing — wrong; and the winner of the Surrey International Writers’ Conference’s Storyteller’s Award, Claire Gregory, tells a poignant tale of heartbreak and betrayal from the beginning of the last century in ‘Forget Me Not’.
  • Stella Ryman is back with more amateur sleuthing and righteous red-tape slashing in The Case of the Fallen Crusader.
  • And with the second instalment of Allaigna’s Song:  Aria, our heroine wields magic and a hero’s conscience as she gets farther and farther from home

Pre-order and save!

Issue 14 smallIssue 14, Spring 2017
$14.99  $12.99


ebook
$4.99 $3.99

 

Using the Lag to Become Superb

beatlebootsstampA brilliant and successful writer once told me, “All writers secretly wish they were musicians or baseball players.”

I don’t know whether that’s as true as it sounds, but watching professionals having fun in their profession never fails to thrill me.

Ron Howard’s documentary Eight Days a Week: The Touring Years, provides a view of The Beatles at the top of their field, taking the music (but not themselves or each other) seriously.  I love the way they josh, endure, satirize, remain true to their promises, adapt, compromise (the time they give to live performances,) and refuse to compromise (the recording sessions.)

And, they use the lag when things are slow to become superb.

The number of hours to excellence bandied about the Internet is 10,000, (and then on to another 10,000, I’ll bet) and those guys spent a chunk of theirs in Hamburg, playing eight hours a day, attempting to draw in passersby to a seedy club on a seedier strip.  I love to see the footage of the Fab Four making the most of their time on stage, the girls, the joking, and repeatedly creating the wild discipline required to play on through day and night.  Watching endurance, exuberance and excellence combined, I remind myself to smile while I write.  I’m kind of relieved that I’m spending my 10,000 in Vancouver and the UK, driven by nothing but deadline, with holly berries and sweet-singing blackbirds outside my office window.  I’m only kind of relievedthough.  Who doesn’t want to play music?  Or, baseball?  Who?

“I saw that Meryl Streep said ‘I just want to do my job well’.  And really, that’s all I’m ever trying to do.” -Paul McCartney

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

muse smallThis week from @yourwritingmuseYou face your work with the happy, bold mindset that brings continuous growth and sure success.   Your Writing Muse @pulpliterature

Don’t miss a writing tips post!  We collect them once a month and send them to your inbox in our free newsletter.

Meanwhile, Bruce Springsteen Keeps Working

notebookvellumsmallAs I read Bruce Springsteen’s autobiography, I’m delighted, but not surprised, to find that he is a superb storyteller and a beautiful writer.  Of course he is.  To a fiction writer, his  career  in music is a lesson in love of work and use of the lag time between early talent indicators and enormous success.

In the first quarter of the book, Springsteen talks about the times he lived in the back room of a surfboard shop, without ID or bank account.  His talent was strong, but his fans were few, and he worked on his music in the meantime.  His fans grew, and life got wilder, but the money was small, and he worked on his music in the meantime.  The money began to come in, but he knew he could be better, so he changed his direction, the money stopped, and he worked on his music in the meantime.  When the call came to play for Hammond, who ‘discovered’ Dylan, Springsteen had a strong folder of songs and was accepted, but the company said that he didn’t have a hit single, and so …

I wish I could thank people like Bruce Springsteen, who inspire aspirers. Springsteen got his chance later on to thank his inspiration, Bob Dylan, and instead found Dylan thanking him for playing his song at Kennedy Centre.  The greats are grateful.  They’re grateful for any moment they get to do their chosen work, and call it play.  And, in the meantime, they work to get even better.

Get Born to Run, by Bruce Springsteen here.  An amazing read.  The kind you savour.

I hope you’ll have another brilliant writing week.

Cheers to you, Mel

muse small

This week from @yourwritingmuse: I admire the way you deal with exchanges of power among characters in dialogue. These shifts and imbalances keep us reading your stories late into the night.  Your Writing Muse @pulpliterature

Don’t miss a writing tips post!  We collect them once a month and send them to your inbox in our free newsletter.

Be Kind to Authors

pupsmallWhistling in the dark, we sometimes call it, but it’s painful, hearing emerging and establishing writers speak self-deprecatingly of their work.   We don’t hear that sort of self-mockery much in other professions.  And, even in our own, with a few Fitzgeraldian exceptions, we would be shocked if top-of-their-field authors spoke with destructive irony about their work.

Furthermore, feeling down about writing interferes with our management of our planning, drafting, and editing time.  Well, I’ll never get there and the world’s not waiting, so I might as well check my emails.

Instead of speaking harshly about our own work, we would be better served to give our inner writing minds all the encouragement we can.  And give that encouragement with our eyes wide open, and sincerely, because we know what our strongest skills are, and which skills we’re working on.  With persistence, hard work, and learning we will always get better still.  And that’s why we’re in this game, isn’t it?  To write superb stories.  To become our highest writing selves.  To do that, we look to our great goals, and show up for the work.  And, we don’t kick the authorial dog.

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

 

muse smallThis week from @yourwritingmuse: You’ve wisely employed all the skills your hero gained in Act 2 in your final showdown. Your Writing Muse @pulpliterature

 

For more daily writing inspiration from Mel, check out The Writer’s Boon Companion, available in our bookstore and on Amazon.com.

Bowen Breakfast LST

Recipe for Writing (aka How to Bake a Perfect Muse Retreat)

Take one part beautiful island in BC (I recommend Bowen Island, the birthplace of Pulp Literature) and one part historic lodgings and add a gourmet chef with a laid-back personality. Mix well.

In a separate bowl, combine eight writers with different styles, preferably from a variety of locations. (This year’s combination of writers from the East and West coasts lent a tangy flavour and I’d advise repeating this balance of flavours).

Set the timer for one hour, five times during the course of the weekend. (Yes, we wrote five sessions and not only had time to read out our works to each other, but fit in a critique session as well).

Garnish with praise and encouragement and honest admiration for each other’s talents. Serve with a warm heart, and enjoy for the rest of the year.  And share this recipe with others, because next year will come again faster than you think!

Next year’s Muse retreat is pencilled in for the 12th – 14th of January.

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The Writing Life: All Systems Go

We’ve got to have great big goals to get us out of bed in the morning. But we need to set systems into place in order to move towards them. The last thing we need is for goals to turn back into dreams.small coracle

Systems for limiting time on the Internet, keeping chaos at bay, making time for people, and keeping ourselves and our loved ones healthy. If we give some time to creating these systems, then we have the peace of mind that comes from life that is not necessarily perfect, but is warm and reasonably calm, and we’re working towards creating, for example, our five novels in five years.

Great goals set our course. Systems are about the process of moving towards them, and most success experts say that process, not product, gets us where we want to go.

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

muse smallThis week from @yourwritingmuse:

You make a point of learning new skills every day. No wonder your work is so good. Your Writing Muse #amwriting @pulpliterature

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Dear Muse

musefinalbwDear Muse, thank you for showing up at our retreat on Bowen Island. Just when I thought I had no more words to write, you rescued me and my manuscript.  I don’t think Superman has better timing.  I hope I don’t come that close to crashing before our next retreat.

Dear Muse, I also want to say it was a nice touch to expand my horizons in the way you did. The selection of people at our table was like a vase of flowers with eight very different varieties in bloom. To see the contrast in our voices, yet to affirm each other in our different styles, brought health and a sturdy platform of confidence to my writing. Together we were stronger. Support is such an important part of long term success as a writer.  Thanks.IMG_0128

breakfast 2Dear Muse, I’d also like to thank you for the food.  I don’t usually get such careful cuisine for so many meals in a row.  Or even one meal in a row.  I felt the respect and craft that was put into the cooking seep into my body like some physical artistic elixer.  And that didn’t even include the wine.  I guess you are the Muse of chefs, too, aren’t you?  And the Muse of bubble baths.  And that was also a lovely walk through the snowy forest.

Dear Muse, please help me to remember how great this retreat was when I get discouraged later this year.  Remind me that such places and spaces exist still inside myself.  And when more opportunities come, let me grab hold of them and say yes.  Saying yes was important.

Sincerely yours,

Sue

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