Category Archives: Authors

Brenda Carre, Magic and Great Storytelling in Issue 15

What a pleasure to read Brenda Carre’s Gret in Issue 15.  She gives us the unique voice of a talented young vagabond who will risks her soul against magical forces to save a world that’s been anything but kind to her:

My mam always told me there’s three ways to prosper best and all begin with L.

Location’s one. No prospering’s ever done by thief or witch if the job begins in the wrong place or time.  Lissome tongue was next.  No matter how much wisdom a gal had to her, good learning didn’t go far if she couldn’t talk her way out of a bad deal.  And last was Lightning touch. That meant the effortless sliding of nimble fingers in-and-out of pockets without being cotched.

With these words Brenda Carre takes us straight into a world of magic, terror and transformation.  This first chapter, complete in itself, leaves us hoping to read the novel as soon as humanly, or magically, possible.

A new project on her website at brendacarre.com, is a story tantalizingly titled ‘Rats at Sea’ in the forthcoming anthology, No Humans Allowed, edited by John Helfers. “Will ships’ rats desert an English Frigate under fire from the French during the Napoleonic Wars? Not if their leader is a doughty young rat named Willy Topper and not if he needs to save the life of his one true love.”

More about Issue 15, in which iconoclasts and troublemakers run amok …

 

Story Spotlight: Candy Apple Baby by Colin Thornton

Here’s a little snippet from Issue 14 to get your engine running this week …

Candy-Apple Baby

by Colin Thornton

It was a candy-apple red, metal-flake, chrome-plated Harley Davidson Low Rider, chopped down, pimped out, and fully accessorized, parked under a misty cone of light from a streetlamp almost as if it was waiting for Zoober to wander by.

For months he had fantasized about owning a motorcycle: tearing down the highway, a big, nasty redhead on the seat behind him, her arms wrapped around his waist, cheek resting on his shoulder.  Money was his problem, or rather, lack of it.  His old man wouldn’t pay for it, that’s for sure.  And there was no way he was going flip burgers for minimum wage like those other peons.

“Well now, looky here.  Someone left the keys in the ignition.”

He listened to the night, scanned the houses on both sides of the street — dark and quiet.  In the silence he could hear that chrome-plated angel calling out to him, whispering in his ear, enticing him, compelling him, daring him to do what most other sixteen-year-old boys would never dream of.

Although Zoober had never been one for going to church, praying, or any of that spirit-in-the-sky crap, he looked up at the stars and with all the sincerity he could muster, said, “Thank you, Jesus.”

 

JD is standing on a hoist, half a dozen fan belts over his shoulder, up to his elbows in the engine of a 1985 Corvette.  He holds out an empty hand, says, “Seven-sixteenths.”  His assistant wraps her fingers around the socket, slowly sliding it onto the wrench with a firm click and a gentle twist.  Brown skin, brown eyes, long auburn hair, naked under her bib overalls.  “Anything else JayDee?” she coos in a soft pillow voice.  Shivers of anticipation ripple up his inseam as she passes him the ratchet.  A smear of grease on her earlobe looks like a drop of chocolate sauce.  He leans forward to taste it …  Tic Tic Tic — Huh?  Tap Tap Tap —  What’s that noise?  Knock Knock Knock …  As Jennifer Lopez fades from his dream, JD realizes that someone is banging on his bedroom window.  Bang Bang Bang —  “JD, wake the fuck up!”  He squints at his clock, rolls over, and peels back one corner of the curtain.

Zoober is standing in the garden, urgently beckoning him outside.  JD shakes his head.  “It’s still dark out.”

But Zoober insists.  “Get out here.”

A beam of light shines through his bedroom door, casting a silhouette of a figure against the wall.  “What’s going on down there?”

“Nothing, Dad.  Nothing.  Bad dream, that’s all.”

“Well, dream quieter.”

Dad mutters something under his breath, flicks off the light and goes back to bed, closing the door behind him.

After a few minutes of quiet, JD slips into his jeans and T-shirt, eases open the back door, and sneaks out to meet his nocturnal friend.

Zoober bounces from foot to foot, arms crossed, shoulders hunched, hands tucked in his armpits.  “Jesus, man, I’ve been bangin’ on your window for ten minutes.”

“It’s four thirty.  What d’you want?”

“I need to put something in your back yard.”

“You woke me up for that?”

“It’s important.”

“What is it?”

“A motorcycle.”

 

Next day, sitting in the school cafeteria after classes, Zoober brags about his previous night’s adventure; the who, what, where, and when, saving the why for last:  “The keys were in it.”

In a lifetime of dumb moves, this ranks high on Zoober’s top ten list.  “Don’t you think …” JD asks, pausing to add the emphasis his slow companion needs, “…  someone might — miss it?”  And just in case the subtle point he was making was also missed, adds, “Might want it back?”

Zoober stares blankly.  Blinks.  “But the keys were in it.”

Before JD can explain the concept of impulse control, the Pappas twins, Chris and Nick, come into the cafeteria and straight over to their table.

Nick says, “Three guys in the parking lot looking for you, Zoober.”

“Big guys,” adds Chris.

“Brick shithouse big.”

“Ugly too.”

“Real ugly.”

“Capital UG ugly.

“Little guy has a cool tat, though.”

“Totally.”

Strangers in the parking lot could be anyone, but the coincidence is too much to ignore so JD suggests they take the back door out of school and cut through the alley to get home.

Seconds after stepping outside, a white Cadillac Escalade with blacked-out windows screeches to a stop beside them.  Three people jump out:  A wisp of a guy in a leather jacket with a tattoo of a snake on his neck and two sumo-sized bodyguards wearing mirrored Ray-Bans.

Minus the scales and fangs, the runt looks a lot like his tattoo — thin and wiry, bristling with aggression and nervous energy.

Snake’s jaw muscles twitch as he steps towards Zoober and JD, sizing them up, nodding and smiling to himself at some private joke.

He locks the kids in a cold-blooded glare, his eyes all pupil, like two lumps of tar.  In a breathy hush that somehow seems to amplify his rage he says, “In the car.”

Zoober and JD are shoved into the back and sandwiched between the two Sumos.  JD watches Snake’s reflection in the rear-view mirror.  His dead fish eyes, pale, cold, and glassy, scanning his prisoners, coming to rest finally on JD.  The intensity of Snake’s gaze feels like a corkscrew boring into his skull.  After what seems like an eternity, Snake smirks and nods.  “Punks,” he says, as if he was spitting a gob of snot.  “Two frightened punks.”

For a instant, Zoober looks at the door handle.  Just a flicker of a glance, a reflex.  “Don’t.  Even.  Think about it,” Snake warns.

He backs out of the service road, drives through the parking lot and onto Main Street.

For a long while they drive in silence.  Snake wants them to sweat, wants them to know who’s in control, give them time to let fear gnaw on their imaginations.  Eventually he says, “You have something of mine.  I want it back.”

Before JD can say turn left at the next stoplight, Zoober starts blurting out directions, leading them 180 degrees away from JD’s house.  Down the avenue, past the church, the strip mall, and Johnny’s Burgers.  Zoober points down the street.  “There,” he says.  “Brick house on the left.  Green garage door.”

Snake parks.  The Sumos haul themselves out of the car to let the prisoners out.  “We’ll be right back,” Zoober says and trots up the driveway to the side door, opens it, and walks in.

“What the fuck are you doing?” JD asks.  “This is Mackie’s house.”

“They don’t know that.”

Zoober walks right through the house, JD close behind.  Past Mackie’s bedroom and up the stairs into the kitchen where Mrs MacNeil is making dinner.  As easily as flipping a switch, Zoober turns on his choirboy charm.  “Hey, Mrs  Mac.”  She’s delighted to see two of her son’s friends.  “We have to study for a math test tomorrow,” Zoober lies.  “Mackie’s on his way.  He told us to wait out back.”

It would never occur to Mrs  MacNeil that her son’s friends would get into mischief like the delinquents she sees on TV.  “Nice to see you boys taking your schoolwork seriously,” she says.  “Are you hungry?”  So nice, JD thinks, the world’s best mom.  He feels like a cad for deceiving her.

“Thanks, but we really should study,” Zoober says, never thinking that the woman he’s dismissed as an airhead might notice that they don’t have any books.

Outside, JD hisses at Zoober.  “Are you suicidal?”

Zoober is so full of hubris it’s leaking out of his sneakers and leaving a slick on the deck behind him.  “I’m not going to let a dwarf and two Neanderthals with glandular conditions run my life.  Let’s get outta here.”

JD would like to kill Zoober himself and save Snake the trouble, but he feels helpless, out of control, as if he’s fallen into a river and been carried downstream into unknown territory.

They go down the stairs, across the lawn, over the fence, through the neighbour’s backyard and down the driveway to the next street, expecting freedom and finding instead a white Escalade — parked, engine running, one Sumo beside each open door.

This time they are thrown into the back seat and squashed between the two bodyguards.  Snake turns to face them — first Zoober, then JD, slowly shaking his head from side to side.

Zoober has an excuse.  “We —”

“Shut up!” Snake shouts.  Zoober’s bluster shrivels and dies like a worm in the sun.

He pulls out a gun, sticks it in JD’s face.  So close, all he can see is the end of the barrel, a silver circle of steel like a giant zero summing up his chances at getting out of this car alive.  He watches Snake’s thumb press down on the hammer and cock the gun with a click that echoes in his ears like a cannon.

“Have I got your full attention?” he asks.  JD nods.  “You’re out of time and I’m out of patience.  You know what I want.”  JD nods again.  “Now, where to?”

Read the rest in Pulp Literature Issue 14.  On sale now!

Colin Thornton studied drawing and painting in college, played music for a few decades while he built a career in advertising.  Today, his paints dry, drums on a shelf, marimba locked in its case, and his advertising days over, he writes short stories.  ‘Candy Apple Baby’ is a chrome-plated tale about theft, fractured friendships, motorcycle envy, and Darwin’s third law.  Colin rides a recumbent bicycle, not a Harley Chopper.

If you’re in New Brunswick you can catch Colin reading at the Frye Festival in Shediac this coming Sunday April 23rd around 3pm.

Where the Angels Wait

Pulp Literature Issue 14 is with the printer and will be available in time for The Creative Ink Festival (31 Mar – 2 Apr) and our launch at Steamworks on Monday April 3rd.  We’re delighted to have another story, ‘The Ankle Bracelet’, from our very first feature author, CC (Chris) Humphreys.

Chris will be on hand at the launch to give a reading and sign books, but in the meantime, let us whet your appetite with a snippet of the poignant ‘Where the Angels Wait’ from all the way back in Pulp Literature Issue 1.

Granada, Andalusia, Spain. August 1986.

Sitting on the edge of the bed now, listening. A door opened, shut, someone has come and gone, that much is certain. They’ve hidden them, and he must find them.

Unless they didn’t leave.

“Hello?”

No reply. He has to start. The drawers? Too obvious but he tries a couple. The cushions? He pulls them off the sofa, feels down the back and side, moves carefully because if they
are there what state might they be in? He finds a crumb covered coin, nothing else. On the high shelves then, at the back of the cupboard, rolling in dust? Or in a jar in the bureau, pickled, floating like onions? With others? Alone? Alone, yes, has to be.

He starts to move quicker. Grapes on the table, that’s frightening. Eat one? Too risky. Time’s nearly up, pull back the sheets, grope under the pillows.

“Who’s there?”

He lies back down. “There’s no one there,” he says, challenging the dark.

He sits up. He knows where they are. His father is in the doorway, making it look small, and he has them exactly where they should be.

“Looking for these?” Dad says, and starts to squeeze his eyeballs from his face.


Off the bed,
groping for a light, blundering in an unfamiliar dark to a wall, a door, a switch, filling the room with yellow, running to the window, pulling back the thick curtains. He thrusts his head out into fierce sun and furnace air and the heat brings him back. He remembers where he is.

It takes him longer to remember why.

Six PM. Jet lag muzzles his head like a warm, wet towel and he can’t figure if home is ahead of Granada or behind. No, behind, it’s nine in Vancouver now. Gwen will be getting Sunday breakfast. French toast. Wearing her blue smock to protect her church clothes. If he was there they’d eat, then she’d take the smock off.

“Coming?” she’d ask.

“Nothing to confess,” he’d say.

He’ll call, catch her before she goes, but after a shower. He wants to make sense when he speaks to her. Before the shower though…

read the entire story in Pulp Literature Issue No. 1, Winter 2014.

 

Welcome to the Writers’ Café and Centre Stage. Be Prolific, Publish Often, Get Paid.

ProfileJan22017Writers'cafeOne of the many reasons we began publishing our literary quarterly Pulp Literature was that there were very few magazines that paid, and many that did not.  We firmly believe in paying authors.

Writers have a deep reservoir of great pieces.  Opportunities for paid publication can be tracked down on the Internet, although they are apt to go out of date quickly.  And, when agents and publishing firms are happy to accept unsolicited manuscripts, you want to know it.

Somebody’s got to scour the web for these opportunities, and since Mel is a mystery writer, and Jen is unstoppable in mounted combat, we decided we are the women to take on the challenge.  We search for paying opportunities, for open submissions windows, for publishers who are willing to take on emerging and established writers, and we devised a meeting place where you can find them.

Welcome to the Writers’ Café and Centre Stage, where there’s a paying opportunity posted at least once every day.  Cheers to you and your career, may you be prolific, publish often, and get paid for your excellent work.

With three cheers, from your Pulp Literature Team!

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

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

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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.

North Pole Blue

A Story by Bob Thurber

This Christmas tale comes with a bite, as all Bob Thurber stories do.  For more, go to bobthurber.net, and look for some of his short sharp stories in Pulp Literature issues 3, 6, & 12.

The first time I saw Santa’s eyes they were the same pale green as the plastic holly my mother hung on the door on a hook she left up all year, and the rawness of the flesh around them was the same blood-shot red as actual holly berries, which are technically ‘drupes’ and contain the plant’s seeds.  The second time I saw his eyes (a year later, same store, after waiting in a line for nearly an hour) they seemed larger, but less round, and their color had cooled to the crystal blue you find in glacier ice — which, at the time, I called North Pole Blue — and this made sense, even though I was only six, still too young to understand the density and compactness of anything so old as a glacier.  That was the year Santa asked my name, and, when I stammered Bobby, he said, “Ah. Bobby. Of course.”  As though we were old friends.

The third time I sat on Santa’s lap and looked up into the old man’s eyes they had changed dramatically, become far less wrinkly and slightly almond-shaped, with pupils the burnt brown of old acorns.  I got a good long view because Santa was focused on the camera the whole time, fidgeting like he had someplace better to be, and he repeatedly scratched the same spot of his beard; in a faint and tired voice he asked what ‘big gift’ I wanted for Christmas, and though I don’t remember what I said, I do recall that he didn’t acknowledge the request, or in any way signal that he had heard, so when I climbed off his lap I felt less sure of everything.  Oddly, my mother always liked that picture the best because of the shy, inquisitive, almost contemplative expression on my face, plus the camera’s flash put a dot of sparkle in my left eye, so there is, I will admit, a dreamy magical quality, but it’s purely an illusion, a trick of light, because my absorption at that moment was really my gut-wrenching disturbance at the weariness I saw on the man’s face, and my utter confusion at his not remembering me.

Years and Christmases and more photos went by.  Santa took to wearing glasses with wire frames made of gold or silver, which I liked.  Though, whether I looked through their lenses or above them, I’d be lying if I said I glimpsed anything other than vagueness.

The last time I had an up-close, personal view of Santa’s face I avoided his eyes entirely, focusing on his nose, which had not only widened and flattened but now contained tiny broken veins like intersecting highways on a roadmap.  He asked how old I was and I said ten.  He asked what I wanted for Christmas and I said, “A pocket knife.”

He shifted me slightly on his lap.  “You a Boy Scout?”

I wasn’t, though I wanted to be.  But I felt he didn’t need to know that.

His breath rolled out the smell of coffee and cigarette smoke.  I turned my head, found my mother behind the elfish-looking girl working the camera.  Mom was waving, trying to get me to smile.  She’d painted her nails a garish Christmas green, and I didn’t like the color.

Right before the flash went off Santa pulled me closer and I felt his beard brush against the top of my ear.  “You know,” he said, “you’re a little too old for this crap.”

And that man, I’m certain, was the real deal.

Nothing but troubleBob Thurber’s short story collection Nothing But Trouble is now available at bookstores everywhere.

‘Better Watch Out’ by Anna Belkine

By now our subscribers should have received their digital copies of Issue 13, and many of the print versions have arrived at their destinations as well.  In the errata department we issue our profuse apologies to author Anna Belkine, whose name was inadvertently left out of the table of contents.  Fortunately, her creepy Christmas story, ‘Better Watch Out’ was not left out, and for those you who haven’t yet had a chance to read it, here’s a sneak preview …

 

Better Watch Out

by Anna Belkine

Sally and I were terrified of Santa as children.  No, not those impostors who hung around shopping malls.  The real Santa lived in our air conditioning vent.  You could hear him moving in there, every once in awhile — a sort of wet rustle.  We knew our parents could hear it too, but they tried very hard to be dismissive about it.  This was just the sound old vents made in the winter, they said.  Santa was just a myth, they said.  But the terror in their eyes told me he was real.  They knew he was real.  That he was there.  And they were lying.

He came out only when we slept.  Somehow he could always tell if we were just pretending.  Like in the song.  You would hear him come out just as you felt your body go limp, just as your consciousness slipped heavily out of your belly and you were no longer able to command your eyes to open.  You could feel him, moving around the room, the large round mass of him, dressed in the sort of shimmering red hues that creep behind your eyelids on bright days.  And he talked, a lot, all the time, using mangled sounds neither pronounceable nor reproducible.  All we understood at first was that his name was Santa.  The way he said it, it sounded like a heavy scuffling, followed by the noise of something viscous dripping heavily on a linoleum floor.  Sssss— tah.  Tah.  Tah.

We had no choice but to listen to him scuffling and hovering and looming there in the dark, behind our closed eyelids.  He never threatened.  He was just waiting.  For the opportunity to be mean.  And we were waiting too, immobilized by sleep, like insects under a pane of glass.

Some nights, we could make some excuse not to sleep in our beds.  Some nights we managed to stay awake until morning.  But in the end, we were still made to lie in the dark by ourselves, with him behind the vent.  Rustling.  Eventually we understood that it was important to our parents that we do that.  They let him visit us.  That must have been the deal they made with him.  Sally and I were on our own.

Especially Sally.  See, I was the favourite child.  Our parents made a token effort to conceal it, but it wasn’t enough; we both knew it, we both felt it.  She was in their way.  An embarrassment.  It’s not like they actively wished her gone, no — but it was clear they would have been relieved if she were.  Just as I could feel the evil skulking around in our room, I could feel her loneliness and her rejection clinging to me, a skinny bundle of ribs, knees, and gasps.  Without me, she had nobody.

… find out what happens to Sally and her sibling in Pulp Literature Issue 13, Winter 2017.

Join us at Academie Duello

Join us to celebrate the success of our Something Novel Kickstarter campaign

We’re planning a party and you’re invited!

CC Humphreys
CC Humphreys

A Literary Launch & Swordfighting Salon
Sunday 18 December, 2pm – 6pm
at Academie Duello School for Swordplay
412 W Hastings, Vancouver BC

This will be an entertaining afternoon of swordfighting and author readings.  We have ten local authors lined up to read, including CC Humphreys, JJ Lee, Eileen Kernaghan and Sebastien de Castell!

JJ with hat
JJ Lee

Tea will be served, and there will be a selection of baked goods and afternoon delicacies.  There will also be book sales, signings, and a craft fair featuring beautiful gifts by local artisans so you can get your last minute shopping done while being entertained.

Eileen Kernaghan

Entrance is by donation.  Half the proceeds go to supporting the magazine and the other half to Academie Duello’s Youth Outreach program, helping get kids get engaged and active.

Sebastien de Castell
Sebastien de Castell

 

 

 

 

 

 

boon-coverWe’ll be launching Pulp Literature Issue 13 there and The Writer’s Boon Companion print edition as well.

You can RSVP on the Facebook invitation to let us know you’re coming to the launch.  We’d love to see you there!

Jen, Mel & Sue
Pulp Literature Press

Double Dare: Stella and Allaigna!

What’s better than one great heroine?  Two!

Our Something Novel campaign has just been picked as staff favourite over at Kickstarter, and we like to think it’s because of our ‘Strong Female Characters’, aka the heroes of Stella Ryman and the Fairmount Manor Mysteries and Allaigna’s Song: Overture.

On the surface, Stella and Allaigna couldn’t seem more different:  one is in her eighties, trapped in a home waiting to die; and the other is a child just starting out on a life of adventure.

However, it is their similarities that make them characters we love.  Despite their lack of personal power, they are stubborn, strong-willed, and fierce crusaders against injustice of all kinds.   We are rooting for them from page one.

If you want to invite both these uppity women into your home, choose the Double Dare on Kickstarter.  For $35 + shipping we will send you each novel as it’s released: Stella Ryman and the Fairmount Manor Mysteries at the end of March, and Allaigna’s Song: Overture in late May.  And if digital is your style, you can get both novels for the amazing deal of $10.

bookshelfBut wait, there’s more!  The second Allaigna novel will start in the pages of Pulp Literature Issue 13 and continue to be serialized throughout the year.  Plus, issues 14 and 16 will both contain brand new Stella novellas!  To avoid missing out you can get a print subscription plus the novels with the Reader’s Delight at $80, or your can add a digital subscription to any reward for only $10.

But hurry!  There are only a few hours left of the Kickstarter campaign.

 

Help these heroines into books of their own by backing us on Kickstarter!

Here’s Why We Hope You’ll Subscribe: Superb Stories and a Noble Enterprise

With the whole great world of publishing at your fingertips, we hope you’ll choose to subscribe to Pulp Literature. We work hard to get you the best storytelling around, and to keep our philosophy rooted in integrity, keeping true to our goals and our promises to you, our readers, authors, and artists.

Our editorial goal is to put together a gorgeous magazine bursting with intriguing tales for you, our faithful readers.

Our business goal is to become the first literary magazine to sustain itself on subscriptions from satisfied customers.

Our employment goal is to pay higher and higher per-word and per-page rates to our authors and artists as our subscription list grows.

With three days left in our Something Novel campaign, we wish you warm spots to read and put your feet up, the most comfortable of seating, and a happy reading experience this winter, and through the year. Thanks for your readership and support.

Mel & Jen