Category Archives: Editorial

Issue 7 feature author: Robert J Sawyer

Untitled-2Canadian readers will especially recognize the name of our feature author for Issue 7 as a leading name in science fiction: Robert J Sawyer has won the Hugo, Nebula, John W. Campbell, Arthur Ellis, and Aurora awards, and with good reason. His books are intelligent and dynamic, introspective and fast-paced. They are true to the calling of great science fiction, seeing our present sharply through the mirror of the future.

Sawyer’s latest book, Red Planet Blues, is unique for its genre crossing, combining traditional pulp genre elements in the futuristic setting of Mars. The novel begins in classic detective fashion, so much so that I can’t help but see fishnet stockings and film noir shadows crossing the set as a hot babe walks in to the only detective agency on Mars to ask a private eye to locate her missing husband…

Before you rush off to buy the book (which I recommend), don’t forget to purchase your issue of Issue 7, to read another cross-genre Sawyer story, ‘Fallen Angel.’ It’s a fantasy story with gothic tones, as a young girl tries to worm out of a deal with the devil. Issues will be mailed out this week! Or come and purchase a copy at our Issue 7 launch party Monday night at the Wolf and Hound pub — we’re set to enjoy ourselves with a beer and a bit of storytelling. What could be a better way to enjoy summer?




Où sont les blurbs d’antan?

small writerOne problem I have with ebooks, is that once I’ve purchased them, I can no longer read the blurbs without returning to the estore.

I want my blurbs. Those artful, enticing descriptions put a smile of anticipation on my face, speed my reading with a supporting scaffolding of basic information, and reassure me that I haven’t already read this one (or that it’s going to be my great pleasure to read it again.)

I noticed that Stephen King’s Revival (loved it) has all the copyright/acknowledgements at the end of the ebook. That made for a slick clean start. He’s always on the ball with these things.  But where is the best place to place eblurbs so that we can see those back cover/inside flap descriptions before we read the book? Summer weather is too pretty for brooding, so I’m lying on the grass, gazing up at the sky and mulling on it.


Thanking our Printer

After receiving our sixth beautiful issue of Pulp Literature, we’d like once more to acknowledge the fabulous work done by First Choice Books in Victoria, BC.

If you’re an indie author, you’ll understand exactly why we’re grateful to have a real publishing house handing our books.  Many indie authors who received printed copies of their books from print-on-demand services will tell you the same story.  They thought they had their book proofread and loaded, they thought they loved their cover, but when they got their book in the mail, it just looked … self-published.  That over-used font, that too-large gap between lines, the thick paper and too-glossy cover — it all added up to an unprofessional image.

When Pulp Literature was looking for a professional printer to give our magazine the edge it needed in a tight literary niche, we got many quotes, from local and overseas printers.  We wanted to keep production here in BC, but as a start-up with low print runs we were very cost sensitive.  First Choice gave us a price that allowed us to keep the work done locally without breaking the bank.  Not until we held our first 500 beautifully bound copies in our hands did we realize what a treasure we had found.  Six issues into the game, we are still impressed with every aspect of their process, from quote, to proof copy, to the final shipment at our door.

If you think this sounds like an ad, it’s not.  because First Choice has become part of our team. When we launched a second Kickstarter campaign, they campaigned alongside us, posting our updates, running ads, and offering advice and support along the way.  Staff members even backed us. They clearly have been doing more than printing our books; they’ve been reading them. They like us. They’re helping promote us, which is not something businesses do freely these days.

Which is why we’re posting to thank Melanie, Patrick and their team.  First Choice a large part of what makes us look fantastic on the bookstore shelf and in our readers’ hands.

first choice

Issue 6 is packaged and ready to hit the post office tomorrow.  Look for your print copies in the mail soon!

50 Shades of Fan Fiction

I’ll admit I only made it through a quarter of 50 Shades of Grey.  It needed an editor, but more importantly, it needed to be free.  It needed to be free of the patriarchal misogynistic stereotypes that are so easily embraced and overdone by romance fiction writers, but also, it needed to become its own book.  Writing fan fiction is like writing a Hollywood script and labelling the characters as famous actors, or in this case, as “played by Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson.”  It steals backstory from other films, and leaves a void of storytelling so that new audiences are lost and feel something is missing.

I’ve read the Twilight series and enjoyed it.  As a romance reader, I appreciated the uniquely insurmountable barrier between the two lovers.  It was a well designed difficulty: if you kiss, you die.  Nice problem.   Romance is all about love overcoming obstacles, and romance readers want to see that love conquers all, even vampires.  But 50 Shades of Grey is fan fiction that tries to stand on its own feet and fails.  Granted, it has been a huge commercial success because sex sells; but behind the titillation there’s no substance.

Because 50 Shades lost the vampire problem it has much weaker obstacles than Twilight.  It has a less interesting barrier with a messed-up male protagonist/antagonist (I’m not sure which he really is).  After a few more tinkers down the road, the weakened plot and weakened characters have become so watered down that they are fifty shades lighter than the original.

Writing fan fiction can be a fun chance to play in someone else’s universe.  It can also be excellent practice for honing your craft.  And like any craft, writing takes practice.  After all, most composers learn to play other people’s songs before they create their own masterpieces.  However, make sure your borrowed characters face obstacles that are at least as interesting and challenging as those created by their own author.  Otherwise you’ll just be writing fifty shades of bland.



The Art of Asking … and Offering

When you pass a busker and throw some change in the open guitar case, what are you paying for?  It could be for the good feeling of helping another human being; or it could be a gesture of gratitude, a ‘thank you’ for filling that corner of your day with music.

For me it’s often the latter, but there’s another motivation as well.  My coin in that case is a vote that says, “I like what you’re doing, please keep doing it, because I’m willing to pay you for it.”

Last year when we decided to launch a magazine to print the stories we love, this TED talk by the amazing Amanda Palmer was a large part of the inspiration.

viellaIt’s a vulnerable feeling to stand on the street corner with your hand outstretched.  When we ran our first Kickstarter campaign we weren’t just asking for your money, we were asking for your trust.  We had no white flower to hand you, and we hadn’t already filled your ears with music.  All we had were the reputations of great writers like CC Humphreys, JJ Lee, Susanna Kearsley and Joan MacLeod, and the promise of a year’s worth of fabulous stories.

One year on Amanda Palmer has published her first book, The Art of Asking: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help, and we have four beautiful issues of Pulp Literature that we’ve been proud to put into your hands.

We hope you liked the medley of stories we’ve brought to your doorstep.  Once more we are asking for your help, this time to publish the next four issues.  Lend us your support and we’ll be your troubadours, bringing you fabulous fiction four times throughout the next year, and for as long as there is a public that wants to pay for it.

Whether you can afford to back us to the tune of $1 or $1000, your pledge on the Kickstarter page is your vote.  It says “I like a good story, I want to see more of them published, and I’m willing to pay to make that happen.”

We thank you for your vote.

The art of asking

For more on Amanda Palmer’s book and the new model for arts funding, see this excellent essay in the New Statesman by Cory Doctorow.



Reviews in the Age of the Internet: Karma Comes to the Castle

castleWhen I first discovered that many used books in the UK were one pence plus delivery I went a little crazy.  Sequels and missed treasures — this was the most complete lending library I’d ever patronized, and I could keep the books.  My library swiftly expanded and rose like a castle into the clouds.

However, soon doubts came home to roost upon the castle walls. I’m a writer, and I would like to be paid, so shouldn’t I be buying the book new?  These are Karmaic doubts.  And you don’t want to mess with Karmaic doubts.  Sharks, typhoons, poor ebook sales … you never know with Karma.

So now, having bought what books I can manage firsthand and the rest secondhand, I post reviews for all.  In the age of the Internet there’s never been an easier, more effective way to do it, because review sites are all over the web.  I wander through my shelves, pick out a book I enjoyed and put up a glowing review for it.  And it’s great — I’ve always wished to thank authors for a great read.  All those hours they write, just to please me!  Thank you very much indeed.

And, a big thank you to readers and writers who have taken a few minutes to post reviews for Pulp Literature.  We so appreciate this work. Thanks again to all.

Thanks Guys: It All Begins With Kickstarter

book2Last year we wanted to start a magazine that would get great genre short stories into your hands.  Because we know you love to read them, and it’s so blasted hard to find fabulous short stories.

But we needed to know how to get them to you.  The New Yorker and Harold Ross started with a big donor but none of us has deep pockets or knows anybody so equipped.  We weren’t stumped for long.  The next day, Kickstarter opened in Canada, and thanks to our first supporters, we got the ball rolling and published our first four issues.

Now we’re just over half way through our second campaign and over 50% funded.  It’s still a long way to go but the pinnacle is in sight.  We believe the appetite for our magazine is out there, and with it the financial support we need to produce it.pulp year 1

Our dream is to create  beautiful magazine for you, O best-beloved readers, with wonderful stories, and an international subscription list.  And we want to pay writers and artists significant money while keeping subscription prices low.

We’re so grateful to all of you who visit our Kickstarter page.  And pass it on to your circles.  And gift books when ’tis the season.

With thanks and literary love to you all.

Mel, Sue & Jen


Meet Sidnye (Queen of the Universe)

Sidnye Dupree was going on thirteen years old when she broke the Bishop’s nose with a dodgeball and dreamed the dream of the shooting star. But even if she’d known then what was happening to her, it would have been far too late to stop it.Sidnye

Scott Fitzgerald Gray has created scores of memorable characters in his novels and short fiction, but Sidnye (Queen of the Universe) is undeniably my favourite.  I fell in love with Sidnye and years ago when I had the privilege of reading an early draft of the novel.  The spot-on characterization of this rebellious and compassionate thirteen-year-old and her equally outcast best friend Emmett, both stuck at boarding school in Moose Jaw, would be wonderful enough on its own.  But then things go all SF on the pair, the story blooms and expands, and the reader follows them out of this world  on a cosmic ride.  I can’t really tell you more without spoilers, but I can tell you I was entranced.

Imagine my delight last year when I learned Scott was finally releasing this gem of a novel and following up with the sequel.  I am even more delighted to be able to share it with you.  For free!

That’s right, free.  Scott will generously donate an ebook of Sidnye (Queen of Universe) to all of our first-month Kickstarter backers if we reach our mid-point goal of $13,000 by November 5th.  You can find out more about the offer here:

Share the link, and tell all your friends you want your ebook. You don’t want to miss this one!

The Art of Seeing

Today all three Pulp Literature editors were treated to an advance presentation by local author and photographer, Sandra Vander Schaaf. “The Art of Seeing” ties together Sandra’s love of tango, stories and visual arts. Some topical teasers:Sandra_Vander_Schaff

  • Why an invitation to dance is like an invitation to story.
  • How the composition of a photo is like the details of your       setting, and why you notice what you do.
  • How the unexpected is the key to story.
  • How to capture and describe emotions in the flesh.
  • How to become invisible as an author, and why that’s important.

Sandra packed a lot into 90 minutes, and we encourage     everyone to attend Sandra’s workshop next weekend at the Surrey International Writers’ Conference.  You won’t want to miss is it!

In related fabulous news Sandra will also be giving her workshop at  our Bowen Island Writer’s Retreat in January 2015, available through our Kickstarter rewards!

Rowling, Dylan, Bond and Bliss

viellaIt seems to me that living our writing life is has a lot in common with embracing other passions. But how are we using those moments—to worry or enjoy?   It’s natural to think about our passions a lot.

A loving parent can spend his time worrying about his daughter and son, or he can use that time and energy to think up fantastic and memorable ways to spend his hours with them.  This is what David Bond did to create Project Wild Thing and the movie he released last year.

A gifted musician can worry about all the money she’s not making, or she can use that time to play her work to anyone who wants to listen.  This is what Bob Dylan did in Greenwich Village, and when the opportunity to record his first album appeared almost without warning, he sat down in the studio and played the songs straight off.

A writer can spend his time worrying about failure and obscurity, or he can think about his present and upcoming works with excitement and anticipation, planning for the next time his pen will meet paper.  Imagine JK Rowling, single mom on benefits, dreaming up the tapestry of detail and character that would become Harry Potter’s world.

The less time we use up on anxiety, the more time we have to enjoy and inhabit what we love.

How fortunate we writers are.  Although it may sometimes seem that we have little control over our drafting time, we are privileged to have complete control over our dreams, and dominion over the the worlds we create.

Chronicles: Volume 1. Bob Dylan. Simon and Schuster. 2004. 

Project Wild Thing. David Bond.

Harry Potter Series. JK Rowling, probably on your bookshelf already.