All posts by Melanie Anastasiou

The Next Step in a Writing Project

For those of us attempting to fit our full-time writing careers into our full-time lives, one great two-step strategy may help.

  1. Ask What one important step comes next?
  2. Chunk this next segment of work down, to the smallest possible size.

Of course, we keep the big picture—the whole book, series, career— in mind.  But when there are only 10 minutes to spare in a working day, it’s worth asking “What’s the one thing that comes next?” If the answer is “Chapter Three”, we’re not about to write Chapter Three in ten minutes on a Thursday afternoon.

Chunking Down the Next Step

What really comes next may not be Chapter Three itself, but a design:

  • on outline of the general action
  • an arc for the POV character
  • a design for an exchange of power through dialogue or action
  • a sketch of the central image,

Any one of these small steps may be taken towards Chapter Three in 10 minutes.  Whether we think it through, draw a snowflake, or write a quick outline, we’ve gone a long way towards writing that chapter.  It’s a mighty satisfying way to finish busy Thursdays, too.  Or crazy Mondays.  Or fly-by Wednesdays…

I hope you’ll have another great week in your writing career.  Cheers, Mel


If you enjoy Mel Anastasiou’s writing tips, you might try her pocket-sized writing guide The Writer’s Boon Companion: Thirty Days Towards an Extraordinary Volume. Motivates, organizes, encourages, inspires.

From Pulp Literature Press

“The Writer’s Boon Companion is a quiet, thoughtful chap.  Boon offers daily hints and exercises to support your narrative along its road to completion.  You’ll also find generous servings of motivation and philosophy to help you forge ahead over 30 days of drafting towards a completed novel or novella.

This writer’s journal offers space for goals, reflection, outlines, and offers what no other writing guide can, the future visions of a steam-powered robot.

Monsters in the Classroom with Adam Golub

Congratulations to Adam Golub on the release of Monsters in the Classroom: Essays on Teaching What Scares Us (McFarland 2017). Adam, with Heather Richardson Hayton, is  co-editor. “The contributors discuss the implications of inviting fearsome creatures into the classroom, showing how they work to create compelling narratives and provide students a framework for analyzing history, culture, and everyday life.” More here.

Adam’s short story ‘The Pool Guy’ was  Brenda Carre’s choice as first runner up in Pulp Literature’s  2016 Raven Short Story Contest. Here’s a taste …

The Pool Guy
by Adam Golub

Ty took a break from sexting Maddie to ask the pool guy about the leaf blower guy.

“I heard someone attacked him with a golf club,” said Ty.

“That’s right,” said the pool guy.  “Someone just walked up and cracked him, Goodfellas style.  Jesús tried to fight back with the leaf blower, and supposedly there was a duel for a few seconds, all King Arthur and shit, but police say this maniac was on a mission, he was hulking, all Rage-Virused out.  Jesús never stood a chance.  He’s got a skull fracture, man.  Lacerations on his arms.  Teeth are all busted up.”

“That’s terrible,” Ty said as his phone chimed.

And then I climb on top of you like a jockey on his favourite horse.  

Maddie was a simile sexter.

…  Read the rest in Pulp Literature Issue 15

Adam Golub with Zombies, in the News

Monsters in the Classroom: Teaching Can Be a Scream, CSUF News Service, August 1, 2017.

“Got a monstrous concept to teach next semester?

There’s a zombie for that.

Inviting creatures into the classroom helps students analyze history, culture and everyday life…” more here

Zombies and the Professor Who Teaches Them, Yes Weekly, June 27, 2017.

At Guilford College, the walking dead have been feasting on students who don’t cooperate to defend themselves. This is not a game or a Halloween zombie walk, the blood-splattered mayhem is a serious academic exercise requiring problem-solving, critical thinking and trust. More here…

About Adam Golub

Adam Golub is an American Studies professor who teaches courses on literature, childhood, popular culture, and monsters at California State University, Fullerton. His stories have appeared in The Bookends Review, 101 Fiction, The Sirens Call, and Winamop.

 

The Practicalities of Thinking Big

Thinking Big: Career Scope

A friend of mine, a wise and lovely woman, filled to the gills with integrity, and inspiring to all, says this about thinking big:  Say you’re making a huge income through your writing every year, what would you do?

Thinking Big: Questions

  • Three thousand words a week to a cogent outline = one long or two shorter novels a year.  Would that be enough for a busy, successful career?
  • What if one wrote double that, would it be too much to deal with, for revising, editing, proofing, promoting?
  • In an ideal career, how much of the day should go to writing?
  • How much of the week?  Seven days writing sounds like a recipe for burnout to me.
  • There will be lots of proofs to look at, and signings.  How many signings a month would be reasonable?  How many readings or workshops?

Thinking Big:  An Ideal Day

Here’s another big scope question for a writer:  What does the ideal day, week, year in an ideal writing career look like?

Imagine that ideal day in a satisfying and successful writing career.  I’ll bet it’s not as frenetic as all those questions in the previous section make it sound.  Still, those big ideas are fun to think about.  And it’s nice to know that already we do, now and then, have that perfect day in our ongoing writing careers as well.

Great dreams combine with concrete goals to fuel our writing energy.

I hope you’ll have another great week in your writing career.  Cheers, Mel

“Learn how to be happy with what you have while you pursue all that you want.”  -Jim Rohn


If you enjoy Mel Anastasiou’s writing tips, you might try her pocket-sized writing guide The Writer’s Boon Companion: Thirty Days Towards an Extraordinary Volume. Motivates, organizes, encourages, inspires.

From Pulp Literature Press

Writers Take a Stab at the How-to’s

I’m always amazed when websites for writers offer How do I get started? as a first question for beginning writers and novelists.  I’m not even sure whether I believe in ‘beginning writers’.  We’re emerging writers, certainly, but many of us began when we were about eight.  If we want to write a novel, we’ve probably been thinking about it for quite some time, and have made at the very least a stab or two at it.

Writers Getting Organized

Perhaps a better question might be, How do I get organized to write a novel? But that’s as individual as our kitchen and garage organizations. There’s no one right way. I remember reading that Danielle Steele’s writing room was walled with bulletin boards. Apparently she would write several books at once (which sounds daunting, except that she also had nine kids, which puts the whole thing into perspective) and had index cards pinned up everywhere with details from each of her heroine’s arcs.

Writers, Motivation and Blank Pages

Or it might be, How do I embolden and motivate myself to get words down on a blank page?  By which we mean, is it going to be good enough?  To answer that worry, let me say that I listened to best-selling author Bernard Cornwell talk about starting out writing his historical novels, inspired by the classic Hornblower stories, starring his own Captain Sharpe.  Cornwell thought his own work was terrible, so he copied out Hornblower, replacing Hornblower’s name with Sharpe’s, and said it still looked terrible. Yet, Cornwell’s work is superb.  So there you go.  And since we’re here with Cornwell, pen in hand, in a blog beginning with How do I get started? it may be worth mentioning that copying out well-loved and admired stories or poems, as he did, is a great how-to for warming up with the major players.

I hope you’ll have another great week in your writing career. Cheers Mel


If you’re a fan of Mel Anastasiou’s writing tips, you might try her pocket-sized writing guide The Writer’s Boon Companion: Thirty Days Towards an Extraordinary Volume. Motivates, organizes, encourages, inspires.

From Pulp Literature Press

 

FJ Bergmann, Winner of the Gold Line Press Chapbook Contest

Congratulations to poet and short fiction author FJ Bergmann, winner of the 2017 Gold Line Press chapbook contest for her collection A Catalog of the Further Suns.

Judge Sarah Vap had the following to say about the winning manuscript:  “As I moved through A Catalog of the Further Suns I found myself, as a member of the human species, alien-ized. I found myself alien-ating. I found myself in a labyrinth of mirrors that reflected back and forth among the histories of colonization and mass extinction, and the futures of colonization and mass extinction. While reading these poems I slipped, for fractions of fractions of moments, just the tiniest distance outside of my human brain… Read more here .

FJ Bergmann is the author of  the intriguing short stories ‘Opening Doors’, Issue 6, ‘How to Lose a Week’, Issue 13, and ‘For your Convenience,’ upcoming in Issue 16.

How to Lose a Week

From Issue 13, a taste of FJ Bergmann’s storytelling flair:

After accidentally pouring reconstituted orange juice instead of milk into the remaining half-cup of coffee, you make a snap decision that it’s okay to go to the art museum instead of work, since you are late to work anyway. When your car won’t start because someone who shall not be named left the interior light on, you decide to hitchhike downtown. The eighteen-wheeler that picks you up is going to Florida; you decide that’s even more okay. You spend the rest of the day travelling south and taking notes for future use in a roman-à-clef while the trucker tells you his very interesting life story. He talks a lot faster than you are used to.

Tuesday
In the wee hours, somewhere near Atlanta, Georgia, the trucker, who has become progressively more wild-eyed and chatty and for some reason hasn’t needed to stop for anything but gas, informs you that an alien spaceship is landing on the road ahead 

Find the rest of Issue 13 here.

More about FJ Bergmann

FJ is a member of the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets who also writes speculative fiction and is a web designer and artist.  She maintains madpoetry.org, a local poetry website, as well as the WFoP site, bookthatpoet.com, and others.  Her personal site is fibitz.com. She also offers a poetry submission service, PoemFactotum.com. She has had poems in the Beloit Poetry Journal, North American Review, Rosebud, Southern Poetry Review, Tattoo Highway, and Weird Tales… Read more here  

We look forward to reading A Catalog of Further Suns when it comes off the press.

 

 

 

A Writer’s Life: Creating Something New

One of the great things about being a writer, and living an author’s life, is that we can be confident that we’re making a difference in the world.  Each turning point, thrill, laugh, satisfying ending we write, is an act of creation, leaving the sphere of readership a little richer.

The Big Picture

Jean Rhys wrote, “All of writing is a huge lake.  There are great rivers that feed the lake, like Tolstoy or Dostoyevsky. And then there are mere trickles, like Jean Rhys.  All that matters if feeding the lake.  I don’t matter. The lake matters.  You must keep feeding the lake.”

Thinking of the big picture is one of the great methods for getting down to work, feeling the energy that accompanies the understanding that what we do, matters.

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


If you’re a fan of Mel Anastasiou’s writing tips, you might try her pocket-sized writing guide The Writer’s Boon Companion: Thirty Days Towards an Extraordinary Volume. Motivates, organizes, encourages, inspires.

From Pulp Literature Press

 

Mary Rykov’s Poetry to be Published in 2019

Congratulations to Issue 2 and Issue 9 poet, essayist, and fiction writer, Mary H. Auerbach Rykov, poet.  Mary recently signed with Inanna Publications and Education to launch her debut poetry collection, *some conditions apply*.  A Fall 2019 release is planned for this book.  The acceptance follows hard on the heels of the publication of several of her essays, as well as exciting forays into flash fiction.

On her website Mary writes encouraging words for poets everywhere:

Just Keep Writing and Sending Them Out

When the prolific poet, David W. McFadden, won the 2014 Giller Prize for Excellence in Poetry for What’s the Score? (Mansfield, 2013), my first poetry manuscript was still seeking a literary home.

“David,” I asked, “what advice can you give me?”

“Just keep writing and sending them out.”

David was right. I kept writing and sending them out. Eventually I scored. Seven years, twelve manuscript submissions (six full manuscripts, six manuscript excepts), and three title changes later, my debut poetry collection, some conditions apply, will hatch with Inanna Publications and Education Inc. in 2019. Thank you, Luciana Ricciutelli, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief. What seems like a long two-year wait is the necessary production schedule of most small presses that work with minimal staff on shoestring budgets for the love of literature. After seven long years wafting in the ethers of Submissionland, these two years will pass quickly.

I share with you what I learned… Read more here

My First Job

Mary’s funny and beautiful essay “My First Job” appears in Numero Cinq Magazine

By the time I was seventeen, I was a singer-songwriter—a tumbleweed riding the wind, barely making ends meet. I sang a lunch set at the Penny Farthing coffee house for my lunch and dinner. And I lived in a downtown Toronto rooming house across the hall from Murray the Speed Freak who, according to the Addiction and Research Foundation, should have been dead six months ago… Read more

About the author:

Puerto Rico-born Mary Rykov is a Toronto music therapist-researcher, editor, educator, and writer.  She holds a PhD in Adult Education (OISE/UT, 2006) and an MA in Music Therapy (NYU, 1995).  Her songs, fiction, poetry, and nonfiction appear in various venues.  She freelances as a writing mentor and editor in multiple genres and serves as proofreader for Pulp Literature Press.

 

An Editor Dishes on Story Submissions

We’ll soon be reading manuscripts for acquisition again at Pulp Literature Press. What strikes me first is the talent that comes through our e-portals.  Space is an issue, and we wish we could take more stories, if only our magazine had a thousand pages.  As well, we’ll often reject a story because we’ve published our quota of, for example, zombie tales.  Or … we’re looking for more zombie tales.

Other than fit, what do I look for in stories for our quarterly, and in novels for our press?

Here are three great reasons I read on.

These may be worth identifying as a time-saving effort for any submission.

  1. The author nails time, place, tone, promise of genre, and a hint at the central conflict on page one, often paragraph one, and continues to do so with the start of each new scene.
  2. It’s clear that the writer has dug deep for ideas for turning points, that are possibly archetypical, but not clichéd, within the genre.
  3. I can tell a fellow editor what this story is about in a sentence and we’ll both still want to know what happens. It’s about a guy who’s ambushed and sent into 30 years of cryogenic sleep, and has to return to his own past to get even and create a better future, second time around. (The Door Into Summer, Robert Heinlein.)

When it comes down to it, as an acquisitions editor, I’m also an avid reader.  I hope to be a big fan of your work.

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


If you’re a fan of Mel Anastasiou’s writing tips, you might enjoy her pocket-sized writing guide The Writer’s Boon Companion: Thirty Days Towards an Extraordinary Volume. Motivates, organizes, encourages, inspires you through 30 days of hints and help with narrative structure.

From Pulp Literature Press

 

The Winner, The Hummingbird Flash Fiction Prize

We are happy to announce the winner of the Hummingbird Flash Fiction Prize!

The winning story is ‘Just Down the Hall’ by Jeanette Topar.

Our final judge, Bob Thurber, enjoyed reading all of the finalists several times before deciding that ‘Just Down the Hall‘  “had qualities that glowed in the dark atmosphere and sense of dread the story presents. Nicely done.”

Congratulations to our winner!

Here’s a taste of  Jeanette Topar’s winning story.

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 color of her skin and matched her hair…

Jeanette Topar receives $300 and publication of her haunting tale in Pulp Literature Issue 17, Winter 2018.

The Editor’s Choice

For the Editor’s Choice, we had to think very hard before selecting from the titles in the Hummingbird Prize long list.  But we were united at last in selecting the moving story ‘The Bruised Peach’ by William Kaufmann.  This story will also appear in Issue 17 of Pulp Literature, Winter 2018.

Congratulations to our winners.  And a big thanks to our fine entrants.  Our deep appreciation goes to final judge Bob Thurber and his keen judgement of flash fiction. Bob Thurber is known throughout the flash fiction universe for his intense, no-holds-barred storytelling, and is the author of Nickel Fictions: 50 Exceedingly Brief Stories, Paperboy: A Dysfunctional Novel, and Nothing But Trouble.

Our next contest, The Raven Short Story Contest, opens September 1st.  Stay on top of all our contests by subscribing to our free newsletter.

Aurora Nominee Melissa Mary Duncan

Congratulations to Melissa Mary Duncan. She is nominated in the Best Artist category for the Aurora awards. This is Melissa’s second nomination.

A Pulp Literature Favourite

We are big fans of Melissa’s work. Managing Editor Jen Landels found Melissa while we were putting together Issue 1 of Pulp Literature.  The Beer Fairy became the first compelling visual for the magazine.

We always find it hard to choose among her bewitching works.   Melissa also created the covers for Issue 5, Fondly Remembered Magic, Issue 12, The Story Teller, and soon-to-be-released Allaigna’s Song: Overture, by JM Landels.

 

Melissa writes: “My inspiration comes from only one source. When I draw or paint the subject may be sparked from a Celtic legend, a tale from the Brother’s Grimm, the lyric from an ancient ballad or the melody of a carol but the finished painting and whatever the viewer finds in it comes from the heart.More here.

Melissa lives in the historic city of New Westminster, British Columbia with her husband, author dvsduncan. Having a playful inner landscape, she confesses to having a hat addiction, wearing Edwardian clothing, reading in the bath, and watching British dramas whilst drinking lemonade. A proud mother of two and grandmother of three, Melissa remains a student of Celtic, English and Northern European history and mythology.

We love  Melissa’s calendar, and her gorgeous, magical, book Faye: The Art of Melissa Mary Duncan.   Her new book, Sketches on the Road to Elfland,  will be out in time for Christmas.  Melissa also has a video coming out soon on the process of her art. Check out her trailer message here.

Amazon reviews of Melissa Mary Duncan ’s work

“LOVELY BOOK fabulous artist!!!! a must own if you love fantasy art.”

“Sometimes whimsical, sometimes haunting, always exquisitely detailed and beautiful, Melissa Mary Duncan’s artwork is full of folkloric, historic, and classical influences, as she shows us glimpses of a world which surely must be right behind the next tree. Each piece has a tale to tell, and every time I look through this book I see something new tucked in a border or hidden in the background which I hadn’t seen before.”

“The pictures are beautiful at first look and extraordinary when you look closer and see all of the nuances she builds into each piece of art. The anecdotal stories in the book are a very special insight into the artist and her daughters which adds a heart-warming personality to each piece.”