Looking for inspiration? Peruse these snippets from past Hummingbird Contest winners. All that furious fluttering should get the juices flowing.
2017 Hummingbird Flash Fiction Prize Winner, Issue 17 ‘Just Down the Hall’ by Jeanette Topar
Truth was, Mrs Cole had become a little afraid of 902. Late in the evenings she’d hear 902’s footsteps slide across the tiled hallway, hesitating outside her door. “Is this my place?” her neighbour would ask. Mrs Cole would mute the volume on her TV and hold her breath as she sat quietly in her tidy living room waiting for the woman to shuffle away. The last few times Mrs Cole had encountered her, 902 was wearing nothing but a gray slip that blended with the colour of her skin and matched her hair — she appeared little more substantial than a shadow or dust mote hovering in the hall.
2016 Hummingbird Flash Fiction Prize Winner, Issue 13 ‘Xuefei and his heart’ by Rebecca Wurz
Xuefei sat on a metal stool in the corner of the operating theatre. He’d been awake all night, and now, sitting in the quiet of the deserted room, he felt drowsy. He had transported the heart of the criminal executed at dawn from the prison infirmary to the university hospital’s surgical suite, built especially for this demonstration. American transplant surgeons, collaborating with Chinese colleagues, were scheduled to do the first heart transplant on Chinese soil.
2015 Hummingbird Flash Fiction Prize Winner, Issue 9 ‘The Last Neanderthals’ by Christina Crocker Escribano
You say, No one is going to eat us, but I know better. The path of the forest is necklaced in footprints. The surface of the snow is scuffed and bloodied. They left no remains of skin or bone, just a fistful of hair that looks like our own. We stop and watch, for a long time, as if the blood was an outline, a shadow, a spirit blooming in the ice. You say the soul lifts from the body, but I see that it doesn’t.
2014 Hummingbird Flash Fiction Prize Winner, Issue 5 Here I Lay Down My Heart by Rob Taylor
Hayim lifted Mima toward the dhow. The captain knelt, grabbed her by her armpits and lifted her up, then lowered her into the hull. Hayim tossed in his duffle bag and for a moment, in the thin skim of ocean and sand that skirts Bagamoyo, stood apart from all that mattered in his world. Then he hoisted himself on board. Mima was already playing with the livestock and making friends with the other children. In the weeks since their arrival in Tanzania she had learned a mouthful of Swahili and was now in full song. Samaki! Kuku! Mbuzi! she pointed and guessed, and the children laughed and nodded and were impressed. Hayim climbed atop a mound of rice bags, maybe seven or eight deep, and pressed his duffle bag into the curve of the hull, punching it here and there with his fists, pounding out their shape. Between punches images of Tel Aviv flashed in his mind — their old apartment, the table and chairs, dishes and books he’d filled it with. Those few weeks when Mima had gone to preschool and life had felt normal and the word normal had plumped with meaning. Then Hayim lay down and his mind cleared.
You remember Issues 1 and 14 feature author, CC Humphreys, don’t you? Allow us to refresh your memory … he’s the swashbuckling thespian and prolific author whose historical fiction and young adult novels have topped the charts.
Sound familiar? Well, longtime fans and newcomers alike, take note! CC Humphrey’s new historical fiction novel, Chasing the Wind, is now available through Amazon or the Penguin Random House website!
Set in 1936 during Hitler’s Olympics, Chasing the Wind tells the story of Roxy Loewen, a morally ambiguous pilot following the path of a rare painting across a politically turbulent Europe and North Africa.
Smuggler. Smoker. Aviatrix. Thief.
The dynamic Roxy Loewen is all these things and more, in this riveting and gorgeous historical fiction novel for readers of Paula McLain, Roberta Rich, Kate Morton and Jacqueline Winspear.
“The Literary Titan Book Awards are awarded to books that have astounded and amazed us with unique writing styles, vivid worlds, complex characters, and original ideas. These books deserve extraordinary praise and we are proud to acknowledge the hard work, dedication, and imagination of these talented authors.”
Thank you to Literary Titan, and congratulations to all the other incredible books Stella was listed with. We’re looking forward to slapping the Literary Titan Gold star on Stella’s cover!
Writers are you coming to the Creative Ink Festival in Burnaby on the May long weekend? If not, why not? This growing festival for writers and readers is the best bang for your buck in town! With three full days of workshops, panels, blue pencils, and readings, there is something to spark the most recalcitrant muse. Plus you get to hang out with amazing authors such as Kevin Hearne and CC Humphreys.
All three Pulp Lit editors will be there, along with our amazing Communications Director Jasmin Nyack who will take charge of the table. We are very busy with panels and presentations this year, but we’ll always make time to chat in between. Here are Mel’s, Jen’s, and Sue’s scheduled appearances:
1:00pm: Designing Character Backgrounds Brenda Carre (M), Chadwick Ginther, Kevin Hearne, JM Landels, Randy McCharles You have an idea for a character, now you have to figure out how to flesh out the character. Come listen to our panelists discuss how to do this.
1:00pm: Blue Pencils Rhonda Parrish/Susan Pieters /Sylvia Taylor (red)
2:00pm: Research C.C. (Chris) Humphreys (M), Eileen Kernaghan, Susan Pieters, S.G (Sandra) Wong Research isn’t just for non-fiction writers. Every piece of fiction, no matter the genre, will contain details which, if not accurate, will throw a reader out of a story. But how do writers do research? When do they start? When do they stop? How do they wade through the quagmire of overwhelming information and choose just the right pieces to weave into their stories?
4:00pm: Slush Pile Confidential with JM Landels Learn what goes on behind the scenes at a literary press. What is the slush pile, how does it work, how long should you wait for a response? Learn what catches an editor’s eye and what can turn them off your story, and, once it’s accepted, what steps it goes through to become a published work.
4:00pm: Find Your Writer’s Voice Adam Dreece (M), Kevin Hearne, Linda DeMeulemeester, Susan Pieters What does that even mean? How do you find it and when will you know if you have found it? How do you make it one that stands out from all the rest?
7:00pm: Blue Pencils S.G. (Sandra) Wong/JM Landels/Ellen Michelle
8:00pm – 10:00pm: Dealer Spectacular Meet and Greet
10:00am: Beyond Social Media JM Landels (M), Tod McCoy, Kristene Perron, Jonas Saul, Sylvia Taylor Creative Book Promotion goes beyond Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and all of those social media resources. What can be done to promote yourself and your work in other areas of the internet or in person?
10:00am: Creating Tension Mel Anastasiou (M), Dwayne Clayden, Tyner Gillies, Lisa Voisin Top Agent Donald Maass says there should be tension on every page. How do we accomplish that? How do we get our readers hooked on the anticipation of what will happen next? How do we keep them invested in what happens to our characters? What happens in our world of the novel?
11:00am: Feeding Your Muse Mel Anastasiou (M), C.C. (Chris) Humphreys, Michele Fogal, Jim Jackson, KT Wagner The creative process can often be a tricky one, and it is easy to fall into ruts or hit a blank wall. Our panelists will discuss how to develop ideas, create compelling subject matter, and what do next when you find yourself stuck, not knowing what to do for your next piece of art, writing or other creative project.
12:00pm: Real Life Superwomen Lisa Gemino, Sandra Wickham, JM Landels and Kristene Perron What do you get when you put an MMA fighter, a pro fitness competitor, a mounted combat expert and a stuntwoman together on one panel? A rousing discussion about the realities of being a “strong woman” and how that compares with their portrayal in fiction. Join authors Lisa Gemino, Sandra Wickham, JM Landels, and Kristene Perron as they KAPOW the stereotypes and share the truth about the lives of superwomen.
1:00pm: Writing Fight Scenes Kristene Perron (M), Kevin Hearne, C.C. (Chris) Humphreys, Tyner Gillies, JM Landels, TG Shepherd Join panelists for tips on writing effective fight scenes. Learn what to include, what to avoid, how to make them fit your story and dispel some myths and fallacies about fighting. Battles may break out among panelists.
4:00pm: Pitches JM Landels – Pulp Literature
6:00pm: Storytelling on the Fly Krista Wallace (M), Adam Dreece, Manny Frishberg, JM Landels, Kristene Perron Writers know that nasty little editorial voice that wants to control every idea, every sentence, every word. Come and share some laughs with these writers as they send that nasty voice away kicking and screaming. With only a few prompts, they will create a story together, one sentence at a time. It WILL have a beginning, middle and an end. It WILL NOT make much sense. There WILL be mirth.
6:00pm: Red Pencils Sue Pieters/Rhonda Parrish/John Mavin
7:00pm: Live Action Slush–General Edition Manny Frishberg (M), Mel Anastasiou, Randy McCharles, Rhonda Parrish, Susan Pieters, Krista Wallace (Reader) Our panel of editors and publishers listen to anonymously read story openings and comment on why they would or would not wish to consider the complete work. Bring the 1st page of your manuscript (please leave your name off the page!) to be read aloud and receive comments from our panel of authors and editors. This event is both fun and educational — don’t miss it!
11:00am: Pulp Literature Presents CC Humphreys, JM Landels, Mel Anastasiou, Susan Pieters, Brenda Carre, Tyner Gillies, Kristene Perron, Krista Wallace. Join Pulp Literature editors and authors for a glimpse into what’s new at the press and enjoy readings from issues past, present … and future!
12:00: How To Finish What You Start Mel Anastasiou (M), Chloe Cocking, Jim Jackson, Randy McCharles, Jane Whittingham Whether you’re an artist, writer or crafting aficionado, everyone can have problems finishing what they started. Panelists share tips on the best ways to maintain your momentum and make it all the way to the end.
1:00pm: Publishers Panel Mel Anastasiou (M), JM Landels, Tod McCoy, Sylvia Taylor Publishers and editors discuss industry trends, their working relationship with authors and agents, the impact of ePublishing on their business, and audience questions.
3:00pm: Live Action Slush-YA and MG Randy McCharles (M), Susan Pieters, Sylvia Taylor, Krista Wallace (Reader) Our panel of editors and publishers listen to anonymously read story openings and comment on why they would or would not wish to consider the complete work. Bring the 1st page of your YA or MG manuscript (please leave your name off the page!) to be read aloud and receive comments from our panel of authors and editors. This event is both fun and educational — don’t miss it!
3:00pm: Red Pencils JM Landels/Tod McCoy/Jonas Saul
4:00pm: How to Create a Killer Opening Adam Dreece (M), Tyner Gillies, Dwayne Clayden, Sue Pieters We hear it over and over again. Your opening needs to GRAB people. How exactly do you do that? How do you get your first pages to jump out at editors, agents, publishers and readers?
Plus we will be presenting the results of the Festival’s first ever flash fiction contest. The winner will receive professional editing and publication in Pulp Literature.
Phew! And those are just our scheduled appearances. There are so many more wonderful writers, editors, and general gurus presenting this year that you’ll fill your creative cup to overflowing Plan to be there — you won’t regret it!
Last week we promised a surprise you would not want to miss, and today’s the day. Of our shortlist, three poems caught Renée Sarojini Saklikar’s eye for the fifth annual Magpie Award for Poetry. Without further delay, here are her picks and comments.
2nd Runner-up – $50 prize
‘My desk’ by Angela Caravan “An ambitious poem, which needs some attention to line breaks and form. That being said, the language intrigues. The possibility of what the language is attempting here: admirable.”
First Runner-up – $50 prize
‘All I Need is a Chair, My Red Piano, and’ by Christine Leviczky Riek “I Enjoyed the dense construction, which leads reader into the world of the poem, telling a story of loss and longing, using repetition of key phrases and a great evocation of a particular time and place.”
Winner – $500 prize
‘Leather wraps both our shoulders, and I will call you my lungs, my falconer, guidepost’ by Kelli Allen “I read this lovely poem as a sonnet with its fourteen line construction and those interesting, rhymic two line couplets cascading a series of stories in image. Wonderful!”
These poems will appear in Pulp Literature Issue 20, Autumn 2018. Congratulations to our winners, and a huge thank you to Renée Sarojini Saklikar for serving as this year’s judge. Thank you as well to all our contestants for your participation and suppourt!
Spring is in full swing, feathers are flying, and bees are buzzing. The winners of the Magpie Award for Poetry will be announced on May 15th, the same day that the earlybird rate for the Hummingbird Flash Fiction Prize ends (enter soon!). And our Magpie, Judge Renée Sarojini Saklikar, who has just as much an affinity for flying creatures as we do, will be launching her new book, Listening to the Bees, tomorrow …
Listening to the Bees
Can poetry matter? In an age where information is rarely parsed into verse and 120 character limits reign supreme, it’s a valid question at many a poet’s roundtable discussion. However, for Renée Sarojini Saklikar, the answer is simple: Yes.
Listening to the Bees (Nightwood Editions, 2018) is a book of essays and bee poems in collaboration with Dr. Mark Winston. The recent and alarming decline of honey bee populations deserves attention, and Renée’s poetry has risen to the occasion. This joint artistic and scientific venture moves between the deeply personal connection humans have with bees and meticulously gathered facts for a written experience of what it means to listen to bees.
Renée Sarojini Saklikar is Poet Laureate for the City of Surrey, British Columbia. Trained as a lawyer and with a degree in English Literature, Renée is currently teaching creative writing for SFU and Vancouver Community College. Renée’s first book, children of air india, (Nightwood Editions, 2013) won the 2014 Canadian Authors Association Award for poetry and was a finalist for the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize. Renée’s poetry, essays, and short fiction has been published in many literary journals and anthologies. Her work has also been adapted into other art forms, including musical and visual installations. Pulp Literature Press thanks Renée for serving as the judge for 2017 and 2018 Magpie Award for Poetry.
What’s that old magpie nursery rhyme? One for sorrow, two for joy … ten a surprise you won’t want to miss! The Magpie shortlist has been selected by our poetry editorial team Daniel Cowper and Emily Osborne, and we tip our hats to these ten entries. Names appear in alphabetical order (by last name) and those with multiple entries under consideration are listed more than once.
Kelli Allen Angela Caravan Daniela Elza Rula Jurdi Charlene Kwiatkowski Christine Leviczky Riek Scott-Patrick Mitchell Cara Waterfall Cara Waterfall Sarah Zwickle
Thank you to all who submitted! Renée Sarojini Saklikar‘s picks will be revealed May 15th, so stay tuned for that surprise you won’t want to miss!
Did you miss the deadline for the Bumblebee Flash Fiction Contest this year? Well, we love flash fiction so much, we have two contests! The Hummingbird Flash Fiction Contest opened May 1st and will close June 15th. Early bird entry fee ends May 15th!
Close your eyes and it might pass you by! The Hummingbird Flash Fiction Prize is now open and we’ve got our noses pressed up against the glass, eager to see colourful flashes of fiction whizzing by!
Contest open: 1 May 2018 Deadline: 15 June 2018 Winners notified: 15 July 2018 Winners published in: Pulp Literature Issue 23, Winter 2019 First Prize: $300 and a 1 year subscription to Duotrope Runner up: $75
Judge: Bob Thurber
Entry fee: $15 Editorial Critique: $15 Early Bird fee (before 15 May): $10 Entry fees include a 1-year digital subscription to Pulp Literature.
This contest is for previously unpublished short fiction up to 1000 words in length. Multiple entries welcome. Total entries limited to 300.
Want feedback on your story? Get a professional critique from one of the Pulp Literature editors for only $15 more.
Stella Ryman and the Fairmount Manor Mysteries is one of ten books out of seventy that are under consideration for this prestigious award. The shortlist will be announced May 2nd, followed on June 9th by the announcement of the winner.
More information on the longlisted authors, as well as the history of the Medal, membership, and all the previous winners, is available on the Leacock Associates’ website at leacock.ca.
Stella Ryman’s sleuthing adventures were first serialized in Pulp LiteratureIssues 1, 3, 5, and 7, and were complied into our first novel publication in 2017. We’re incredibly proud of this book and delighted it is being recognized by such an esteemed jury. Please join us in congratulating Mel, and be sure to check out Stella Ryman and the Fairmount Manor Mysteries.
Already read the novel and want more Stella Ryman? Check out Pulp Literature Issue 18, Spring 2018, containing a preview of Mel’s second Stella novel, Stella Ryman and the Mystery of the Mah-Jongg Box.
Do you like reading great fiction for only a fraction of the price? Issue 12 featured author, Bumblebee Flash Fiction judge, and all around debonair fella, Bob Thurber, has got a deal for you!
Cinderella She Was Not, winner of the 2006 Meridian Editor’s Fiction Prize, is available in the Amazon bookstore for 99¢ until April 26th.
“A fast read. Raymond, the “bad boy/lost boy” narrator is uncompromisingly honest, sometimes erudite, and occasionally charming. His observations of the well-to-do Porter family will remain in the mind long after reading. A terse, edgy, darkly humorous tale about love and marriage and infidelity…”
Intrigued? So are we, and luckily, we’ve got an excerpt to entice you even more!
“It isn’t enough for your heart to break because everybody’s heart is broken now.”
— Allen Ginsberg
This is a roughed up fairy tale, a sort of teaching tool for my children and yours. The year is 1999. I can’t predict the future but right now the world is an ugly mess, so don’t count on anything even resembling a happy ending.
My name is Raymond Masterson. I’m twenty-eight, married, chronically unemployed, and lucky not to be dead or rotting in some prison cell. Back when I was nineteen, I ripped off a couple of downtown Providence dope dealers, Southside boys, the kind of people who don’t forgive and never forget. It was a really stupid thing to do once, blatantly insane to do a second time. The only reason they didn’t torture and kill me was some narcotics agent shot them both dead during an undercover sting operation. Lucky me. The whole point of that anecdote being that I hardly expected to see my twenty-first birthday, and now, pushing thirty, I’ve got one kid in diapers, and another child on the way.
Lucky me again.
As pathetically mundane and unexciting as all that sounds, I’m actually doing okay. Thanks to my wife’s recently defunct old man (You may have read about the passing of Sam Porter, aka Uncle Sam, founder and CEO of Porter’s Drug Stores,) I’ve got a few bucks in the bank, so I don’t have to labor like most folks. It’s a great thing not to have to work or to worry where the money is coming from. Even so, in spite of my good fortune, most days I’m miserable, tortured by a terrible sadness. For one, I don’t know a damn thing about being a good father. So I worry about that.
Mainly, I’m frightened that despite my good intentions, given enough time, I’ll somehow screw my kids up. Most parents seem to manage that without even trying. So I worry about heredity, and the dark horrors hidden in ancestral genes. Granted, I concern myself too much with things beyond my control — about “Foreign Policy” and “U.S. Interests” and what the world will do to my children. About depravity, and disease, and war.
I once read that if parents truly loved their children there would be no more wars. That’s a hard line to swallow, though difficult to argue with. Oddly, it was written by a mystic who never went to war and never had any children.
Incidentally, there’s a war in this story, a small war, the shortest on record, but a war nonetheless. Possibly you watched it on television, and rooted for the home team. Or maybe you know someone who was there, and can describe the fireworks first hand. I’m only including this little war here because it is a semi-pertinent part of the story, but I’ve played it down as best I can.
Primarily, this is a tale meant for my children, for when they become young adults. It’s a somewhat crude but hopefully moral lesson in love and lust, if not quite a secret map to guide them and keep them forever watchful against the coldness in us all.
Once upon a time . . .
Bob Thurber will be back as contest judge for Pulp Literature’s Hummingbird Contest, opening May 1st. Early bird entry fee is only $10 and ends May 10th, so make like a hummingbird and get your flashiest fiction ready!