Category Archives: Contests

‘Simple Decoration’ by Bob Thurber

Forget your last minute shopping and enjoy this timeless Christmas story offering from the reknowned Bob Thurber.

Simple Decoration

by Bob Thurber

It was all Jack that Christmas.

On the drive across town I thought of nothing else. Not my ex-wife, whose car I had begged to borrow, or my daughter experiencing her first Christmas without me.

My headlights carved tunnels in the slanting snow. I found a clear spot in a tow zone and bumped up onto the curb. I left the engine running, headlights on, not caring if I ever saw that car again.

My key still fit. I let myself in, stomping snow from my boots. It was late. I was embarrassed. All the real work had been done.

Phil was there. Arthur, too. They had repositioned the bed, set its angle, laid Jack out neat and cozy. On a pedestal table, dead center of the carpet, stood a two-foot tree, some of its branches dripping wet snow.

“The roads are treacherous,” I told the room.

Someone coughed. Arthur, I think.

He was huddled by the bed, holding Jack’s hand as though it were a tiny bird. Phil was behind him, sipping from a mug with my name on it.

“So what’s the word?” I said. “What do they say?”

I reached under my scarf and fingered the collar of my coat.

“They? They don’t know anything,” Arthur said.

Phil rocked, and shrugged. “Tonight. Tomorrow. Who knows?”

“I do. I know,” Arthur said. “He’ll die in the morning. He’ll die on the day Christ was born.”

My nerves burned cold as I approached the bed. Someone, probably Arthur, had stacked Jack’s prescription bottles into a useless pyramid. I had to tuck my elbow to avoid knocking them over. No one said anything as I kissed Jack on the forehead and slowly backed away.

“That’s new,” I said, nodding at the tree.

“Fifteen minutes old,” said Phil, tilting his watch to catch the light.

“Phil stole it from the side yard.” Arthur said.

“Roots and all,” Phil said.

I started to smile, then thought better of it. I leaned my face into the tree. I touched a pine needle with my nose.

“Tell me,” I said. “Either one of you uncomfortable with my being here?”

Phil shrugged. “You have a right,” he said. “I guess.”

He was staring at Arthur, at Arthur’s back.

“I don’t care,” Arthur said. He was studying Jack’s hand as though something were written there. “Though I used to. I used to care very much. Enough to hate you both.” He turned his head a little; his eyes were closed. “I suppose none of that makes a bit of difference now.”

I shrugged out of my coat.

“Let me help you with that,” Phil said.

* * *
It was in a hallway closet, a closet meant for coats, that we found the wicker basket full of garland and tinted-glass ornaments, and some embroidered things Jack’s mother had made.
Hers was a story we’d forgotten to remember.

She’d been dead almost forever but in her last days had crocheted tiny stockings, little candy canes, macramé angels, a few fat-faced Santas with cotton balls strategically placed.

Fine needlework!

All with a loop of yarn so you didn’t need hooks. Just snatch up a branch and slip the thing on, easy as a ring.

Like fools we used it all.

We emptied that basket, crowding everything in, overlapping when we had to. Then we settled back, sipping cocoa and admiring our handiwork.

The air grew hot with our breathing and the thick smell of pine.

I sunk into a fat chair, closed my eyes and fell asleep — for a minute or an hour.

When I woke the windows were full of light, and the tree looked gaudy and cheap — far too flashy for our friend who hated glitz.

I complained out loud. And first Phil, then Arthur, agreed.

And with fresh cups of cocoa in one hand we stripped that tree bare, except for the garland and a single yellowed angel whose yarn had snarled.

God, we were tired. Each of us needed a shave. The three of us yawned like lions as we circled that tree, planning to start again, to keep it dignified and simple.

But then Jack fluttered an eye, turned his head on the pillow:

“Perfect,” he whispered.

So we left it that way.

 

Bob Thurber is our judge for Pulp Literature’s annual Bumblebee Contest, which opens in January.  His short stories can be read in Pulp Literature Issues 3, 6, and 12, and are available on Amazon. And yeah, we like his latest look. The eye patch is totally bad-ass, like his stories. This Firebox Fiction’ originally appeared in Night Train Magazine in 2003 and was performed on U.S. National Public Radio (KRCB) in December 2004.

Want Bob to read your story?  Enter the Bumblebee Flash Fiction Contest …

Raven Short Story Contest Winners 2017

No need to hold your breath any longer:  the results are in!

The Raven Short Story Contest winner for 2017

is Elaine McDivitt with her story, ‘The Tape’.

‘The Tape’ caught judge Brenda Carre in its powerful stream of consciousness .

“Who does not remember the striking cover of The Female Eunuch by Germaine Greer? It provided a visual punch that the story made good on right to the end.  I found the circular theme of tape in Virginia’s haunting narration a gripping read. The unique cadence really supported the sense of horror and realization unlocked at a garage sale.” – Brenda Carre

Coming in as a close runner up, Kerry Craven‘s story, ‘Meggie’.

“This was a very interesting fairy-tale-esque exploration of the dehumanization of Dementia. Through Meggie’s surprising transformation into a new being she is able to move past grief at least for awhile. I loved the Baba Yaga quality of the magical young woman with the sack full of all possibilities. I would love to see the dialect trimmed somewhat. With a bit of editing this has the ‘whiskermarks’ of a fine story.” – Brenda Carre

Both of these stories will appear in Pulp Literature Issue 18, Spring 2018, and the winners take home $300 and $75 respectively as their prizes.

Honorable Mentions go to Alex Reece Abbott for ‘My Brother Paulie: A Domestic Space Odyssey’, and Charity Tahmaseb for ‘The Potato Bug War’.

Congratulations to all of these writers, and special thanks to judge Brenda Carre! Pulp Literature Press is grateful for the abundance of talent and hard work that was poured into all of the submissions for the 2017 Raven Short Story Contest.

Our next contest, the Bumblebee Flash Fiction Contest for stories up to 750 words long, opens January 1st, 2017.  We hope to see you there!

Track your submissions at Duotrope

The 2017 Raven Contest Shortlist

The big announcement for the Raven Short Story Contest is just around the corner! For now, we are excited to announce the incredible authors who have made it on the Raven 2017 shortlist, alphabetically by author first name.

The Raven Short Story Contest Shortlist

Alex Reece Abbott, ‘My Brother Paulie: A Domestic Space Odyssey’

Brian Dang, ‘Edgeless’

C.E. Mandybura, ‘Monkey Days’

Charity Tahmaseb, ‘The Potato Bug War’

Daniel Beaumont, ‘Shifting Bodies’

Dustin He, ‘Carrion Feeder’s Pedigree’

Elaine McDivitt, ‘The Tape’

Jessica Oesterle, ‘Respira’

Joni Hobbs, ‘Lavender Rhy and The Moon Room’

Kerry Craven, ‘Meggie’

Judge Brenda Carre’s chosen winners will be announced tomorrow, November 15th! Until then, we would like to thank everyone for their submissions and we wait alongside you with bated breath …

The Raven Short Story Contest Longlist

Thank you to all you amazing short fiction writers for entering this year’s Raven Short Story Contest. The preliminary judges read this treasure trove of storytelling with great relish and appreciation. We are pleased to announce, alphabetically by author first name, the longlist for the Raven.

The Raven Short Story Contest Longlist

Note: if a name appears twice, that means two stories by the same author have made the list.  Double congratulations!

Alex Reece Abbot
Alex Reece Abbot
Brian Dang
C.E. Mandybura
Caleb Jackson
Carolyn Drake
CE Mandybura
Charity Tahmaseb
Colin Thornton
Daniel Beaumont
Debra Catanzaro
Dustin He
Elaine McDivitt
Elizabeth Barton
Emily Lonie
Hannah van Didden
Heidi L. Waterman
Jackie Carmichael
Jeanine Manji
Jen Bingham
Jessica Oesterle
Joni Hobbs
Joshua Visser
Kathy Joyce
Kerry Craven
KT Wagner
Larry Ivkovich
Liza Potvin
Mark Cameron
Michael Elliott
Peter Dickinson
Richard Arbib
Rob Greene
S. Ondrack
William Kaufmann

Good luck to all these writers, as we go through the difficult job of paring the list down to ten for judge Brenda Carre.  The winners will be announce November 15th.

 

 

Raven Contest Deadline Extended

Due to the fact our managing editor is currently gallivanting around France, Spain and England, fiction and flash fiction authors have a few extra days to send us your stories.

Raven Short Story Contest deadline extended to October 20, 2017

We’re looking forward to reading these entries once Jen is back and recovered from sun, sand, and prosecco …

Read more about the Raven  here… 

The Raven Short Story Contest offers a $300 top prize,  print and e-publication. (Want feedback on your story?  Get a professional critique from one of the Pulp Literature editors for only $25 more.)

The Raven Short Story Contest

Show us your most scintillating treasures in the form of short fiction up to 2500 words in length and you could be the one bringing home $300 to line your nest! Enter the contest here.

Enter the Raven Short Story Contest

Why enter your latest short story in the Raven Short Story Contest?

Enter the Raven

With a top prize of $300, entries limited to 200, and editors eager to read your 250 to 2,000 word tale, you’ve got a great chance of bringing home a Raven prize.  

Flash Fiction geniuses take note!

Enter the Raven

Judge Brenda Carre writes gorgeous fantasy, but she loves the taste of different styles of storytelling and reads avidly across the genres.

More good news: your entry fee of $20  includes a $17.99 value 1-year digital subscription to Pulp Literature, full of more great reads all year long.

Enter the Raven

Mutiple entries welcome. We can’t wait to read them.

Cheers from your Pulp Literature Press Editors

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.

Hummingbird Prize Shortlist

After much deliberation, the editors are pleased to announce the shortlist for the 2017 Hummingbird Prize. In alphabetical order by story, the shortlist is as follows:

  • “A Pop of Purple” by Sarah Chamberlain
  • “All Day Every Day” by CE Mandybura
  • “Bequest” by Soramimi Hanarejima
  • “Choosing Guns” by Linda Kirkby
  • “Coasting” by Melanie Cossey
  • “Commonplace Permit” by Ella Christie
  • “Just Down the Hall” by Jeanette Topar
  • “Late Blight” by KT Wagner
  • “Pilgrimage” by Alex Reece Abbott
  • “The Bruised Peach” by William Kaufmann
  • “The Cure” by Salvatore Difalco

Congratulations to all the authors!  The winner as chosen by Bob Thurber will be announced on July 15th.

The 2017 Hummingbird Prize Longlist

Hold on to your hats! (You’ll need them, with all this downright hot and sunny weather we’ve been having.) Our editorial team has come up with a longlist for this year’s Hummingbird Flash Fiction Prize.

The longlisted stories, in alphabetical order:The Hummingbird Flash Fiction Prize

  • A Pop of Purple
  • All Day Every Day
  • Bequest
  • Below the Line
  • Choosing Guns
  • Coasting
  • Coco and Peanut
  • Commonplace Permit
  • Forgiveness
  • Just Down the Hall
  • Late Blight
  • My Recurring Dream Each Time I Start to Drift on the Sofa
  • Pilgrimage
  • Stonecold
  • Stuck
  • The Bruised Peach
  • The Collector
  • The Cure
  • The Taste Tester

Thank you to all the authors who submitted stories. It was a pleasure to read them.  Winners will be announced on July 15th!

The Raven contest opens September 1st.  Sign up for our free newsletter to be notified of contest openings, launches, and other events.

 

Poet Daniel Cowper, Chapbook Contest Winner

Congratulations to poet Daniel Cowper. He is a co-winner of Frog Hollow Press’s second Chapbook Contest. The God of Doors is out now, and you can order your copy here.

Daniel has been our expert and valued poetry editor since the inception of Pulp Literature Press in July 2013.  Like Pulp Literature, he is from Bowen Island, BC.  After studying mediaeval literature, philosophy, and law in Vancouver, Manhattan, and Toronto, Daniel returned to Bowen Island, where he is finishing his cabin with an eye to his wife’s comfort.

Daniel’s poetry has appeared in Arc Poetry, the Literary Review of Canada, Prairie Fire, Vallum, CV2, Dalhousie Review, Freefall, the Hart House Review, and is forthcoming in Noise Anthology. His non-fiction has appeared at the Puritan’s Town Crier, and you can read his article on conceptual poetry here.