Category Archives: News

Featured Author: Emily Osborne

We love it when we have good news to share about our authors. This week, join us in congratulating Emily Osborne, author of ‘Devonian’ (Pulp Literature Issue 17, Winter 2018) for winning an honorable mention in Contemporary Verse 2’s 2017 Young Buck Poetry Contest!  On top of this good news, we’ve learned that her chapbook Biometrical will be published by Anstruther Press later this year.

Emily Osborne is a researcher, translator, and poet living in British Columbia, Canada.  She earned a PhD in Old Norse-Icelandic literature from the University of Cambridge and recently held a postdoctoral fellowship in mediaeval literature and linguistics at the University of British Columbia.  She has taught mediaeval literature and poetics at Cambridge and UBC and published several scholarly articles.  Her poetry has appeared in The Literary Review of Canada and Symposium, and she was runner-up for Eyewear Publishing’s first Fortnight Prize.  Emily has also published translations of Old English and Old Norse poetry in academic journals and books.

She has kindly shared with us is an excerpt from her poem ‘Diacritics’, published in Minola Review’s 2016-2017 Anthology.

Diacritics

Maybe all vowels were once sister chromatids,
but now we carve grave and caret
on separate word trees.

I can’t read your DNA or lips.
You said my consonants split and replicate,

like cells in tumours.
Writing them makes you stressed.

Possessives are tricky on paper,
so often inked with red. After classes,
ESL students roam cities, see kids
slash ‘ł’ and ‘ø’ on concrete artistry.
Is that Polish? No.
Paint bleeds.
Later they’ll sit at library PCs,
typing home without familiar glyphs.

Viewpoints online metastasize through hashtag
alphabets, while English pushes diacritics
out of foreign correspondence.
Keyboards are capricious,
and we’re étroit d’esprit
when small things make big shifts.

 

Emily’s poem, ‘Glassblowing’, will appear in CV2’s Summer 2018 issue.  In the meantime and you can find ‘Devonian’, and more wonderful poetry in Pulp Literature Issue 17.

 

Author News: Brandon Crilly

If you missed author Brandon Crilly at ConFusion this past weekend in Detroit, don’t worry! There’s still plenty of time to get a spot at Can-Con 2018, where Brandon (and many other writers) will be speaking, workshopping, and/or roaming the dealer’s room.

In the meantime, Brandon’s literary time-travel piece, ‘Moments‘, was published in Daily Science Fiction. About the piece, the author says:

Ideas sometimes come from strange places. ‘Moments’ actually originated with a yearbook comment I wrote for one of my students in June (2017). There was a running joke in class where every time I said something like, “Don’t worry, I won’t change the date of the test,” this student would pull out her phone and say, “So at this time, on this date, you said this”–basically pretending to keep a record to hold me to my word, since too many teachers didn’t keep theirs, in her experience. I came up with the structure of ‘Moments’ on the fly when I was scribbling in her yearbook, and then realized it would be an awesome structure for an actual story. The time travel narrative came naturally, and the rest of the story followed. And since this is my first ever DSF story, I’m dedicating ‘Moments’ to my students and colleagues at Merivale High School, who gave me no shortage of inspiration and entertainment.

Brandon can also be found in Pulp Literature Issue 16 with his short story, ‘Clearing Out Nests’.

Clearing Out Nests
By Brandon Crilly

Hana triple-checked that she had cleaned all the dried blood off her skin before she left the restroom. No one in the coffee shop had noticed it when she walked in, so focused were they on their conversations or smart phones. There had only been a few patches of gore; she thought about sitting down at the counter to see how long it took for someone to give her a weird look. Or scream. Willis would have killed her if she’d tried that, though, so her bloody hijab, shirt and pants went into her backpack, to join the pile of similar laundry waiting at home.

A steaming cup of coffee was waiting for her at the long counter that looked out on the street. Willis had a newspaper in front of him, but that was just for show; between sips of herbal tea, his eyes were on the empty building across the street, one hand resting near the duffel bag that held their weapons. The place across the street had been a clothing store before a couple of unexplained deaths led to it closing down. There was a gap in the polite FOR LEASE signs lining the windows, but if no one had seen Hana take it down with her when one of the ghouls threw her across the interior, she doubted anyone would bat an eye now.

“Nothing, I’m guessing?” Hana asked.

“Not a peep.”

Hana took a careful sip of coffee, but the motion still made her throat ache where that ghoul had grabbed her. She grimaced, and Willis shook his head.

“Please don’t start already.”

“You should’ve gone left,” he said. He licked drips of tea from his shock-white
mustache.

“Are you really going to criticize me for making the wrong choice on a fifty-fifty chance?  If you thought I should’ve gone left, maybe you could’ve shouted or something, because going right seemed perfectly fine to me at the time.”

Willis grunted.  “You’re being too loud.”

“Like anyone would care in here,” Hana murmured.  She glanced around.  The patrons in here had been two lanes of traffic away from a nest of ghouls that would have gladly ripped their faces off and danced in their skin.  But of course they had no clue, and would go on with their blissfully ignorant lives, thanks to people like Hana and Willis.  …

The entirety of ‘Clearing Out Nests’ can be read in Pulp Literature Issue 16, currently half off in our bookstore with the code BEATTHEBLUES.

Beat the January Blues

The last of the gingerbread is gone, resolutions are falling by the wayside, and spring is still weeks and weeks away.  If January’s got you down, we have a treat for you:  it’s a back-issue blowout!  For the last week of January only, all back issues — that’s all print and ebook issues dated 2017 or older — are on sale for half price.  Use the coupon code BEATTHEBLUES to stock up your shelves at 50% off and help you survive till spring!

Author News: JJ Lee

JJ Lee is back on our radar with great news to report. His novel, Measure of a Man, has been longlisted for the CBC 2018 Canada Reads Contest

“The story of a father, a son and a suit,” is the subtitle of JJ Lee’s The Measure of a Man,  tracing the author’s journey altering his father’s old suit as an act of remembrance.  A finalist for the 2012 RBC Taylor Prize and the 2011 Governor General’s Literary Award for nonfiction, the memoir turns suitmaking into powerful prose — and one family’s story into a tale of intergenerational reconciliation.

The shortlist will be announced on Jan. 30th, and until then, we’ll keep our fingers crossed!

JJ Lee has been the feature author of several Pulp Literature Issues: Issue 17 (‘Desdemone’), Issue 8 (‘The Man in the Long Black Coat’), and Issue 2 (‘Built to Love’).  As well, the multi-talented author painted a custom cover to go with Robert J Sawyer‘s story ‘Fallen Angel’ in Issue 7.

Here is an excerpt of ‘The Man in the Long Black Coat’ to whet your appetite for more of JJ’s marvelous storytelling style.

 

The Man in the Long Black Coat

A Chthonic Christmas Tale by JJ Lee

 

Silesia

December 1944

I don’t remember if Mother’s eyes said it or if she spoke the words, “He’s just a boy.”  I do remember feeling anger and burning shame.  I was eleven years old, the eldest.  Father had been gone for years.  The weekly newsreel Die Deutsche Wochenschau showed boys my age working in factories, making shells and gun parts.  In school we were told to be “slim and strong, swift as greyhounds, tough as leather, and hard as Krupp steel.”  I thought I was until I saw Mother’s eyes that night in the winter of 1944.

Herr Mundt didn’t care.  He had arrived from the larger, Lower Silesian town of G______ in search of what he called ‘recruits.’  He dressed in the makeshift manner of the Volkssturm, the People’s Army.  He wore scuffed and muddy railroad boots, brown breeches, and an armband over his grey coat sleeve.  On his collar, Herr Mundt had pinned officer pips.  He topped his head with the kind of hat a butcher would wear.  His attire was theatrical, ersatz, outlandish, wildly officious, and, because he seemed so out of control, menacing.  From his gaze I wanted to hide.

“He has five minutes to gather warm clothes and boots, if he has any,” said Herr Mundt.

He stepped back into the snow and shadows and strode off in the direction of the neighbours.  Mother shut the door.  My legs trembled as I climbed up the stairs and went into the bedroom.  I took off my pyjamas and folded them.  I tucked them under my pillow.  I began to put on as much clothes as I could.  I stuffed more warm things into a canvas bag.  I went to the other side of the bed and leaned down to kiss Lena, my sister, on her forehead.  Her eyes opened.

“You should be asleep,” I said.

“Where are you going?”

“I don’t know.”

“Take this.”

She pulled from under the covers a tin soldier, my oldest, most treasured toy.

“Where did you find it?”  I fought the urge to snatch it from her and I held out my hand.  She put it in my palm.  I saw the chipped paint on its shako, the blue on its tunic nearly worn through from play, the bent rifle, and the blankness of its face.  It made me think of Father.

“Keep it until I come back.”

I tucked her in, kissed her again, and went downstairs.  Mother said, “You can hide in the forest.”

“I don’t think they will let me.”

A pistol cracked.  A woman’s wail cut through the night.  A minute later, Herr Mundt thumped on our door.  “Frau Steiner.”

… read the rest of the story in Pulp Literature Issue 8, the dystopian Spec Fic ‘Built to Love’ in Issue 2, or JJ’s current Christmas ghost story, ‘Desdemone’ in Pulp Literature Issue 17.

 

Featured Author: Jenny Blackford

Let’s ring in the new year with some celebration! Jenny Blackford (‘The Hair in the Bag’, Pulp Literature Issue 15, Summer 2017) is the winner of The 2017 New England Thunderbolt Prize for Crime Poetry! Her poem, ‘The Crack’, examines the heartbreaking result of a decision made out of fear, and can be read here.

Jenny Blackford is a poet and author based in Newcastle, Australia. Her poems have appeared in The Pedestal Magazine, Strange Horizons, Star*Line and Rhysling, as well as various anthologies and venerable literary journals. Pamela Sargent called her subversively feminist historical novella set in ancient Greece, The Priestess and the Slave, “elegant.”  Pitt Street Poetry published an illustrated pamphlet of her cat poems, The Duties of a Cat, in 2013, and her first full-length poetry collection, The Loyalty of Chickens, in 2017.

For your delight, here is a poem by Jenny, originally published last summer at Strange Horizons.

Beast
by Jenny Blackford

Slow, even, quiet breaths.
He never snored.

I’d caught the perfect man
against all odds. How my friends

had scrambled for the ritual bouquet!
Hunting his warm sleeping hand to hold,

I grasped instead a heavy paw.
One furred toe wore the wedding band

I gave him. Tips of sheathed claws
pricked at my skin.

Deep in his throat,
he growled.

For more poetry from Jenny Blackford pick up Pulp Literature Issue 15, Summer 2017, where you’ll find the moving poem ‘The Hair in the Bag’.

 

 

Mary Rykov’s Essay ‘Abyssinian Maid’ in CNQ

Congratulations Mary H Auerbach Rykov, poet, essayist, fiction writer, and Pulp Literature proofer extraordinaire. Mary’s essay “Abyssinian Maid” was released in the landmark Issue 100 of Canadian Notes & Queries.

*some conditions apply*

As well, Mary signed this year with Inanna Publications and Education, Inc. to launch her debut poetry collection, *some conditions apply*.  A Fall 2019 release for this book is planned.

On her website Mary writes some great advice for authors:

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.”  …keep reading on Mary Rykov’s page.

You can find more of Mary’s poetry in Pulp Literature Issue 2, Spring 2014, and Issue 9, Winter 2016.

‘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 …

Bumblebee Flash Fiction 2018

It’s a new year, and that means a new writing contest. The 2018 Bumblebee Flash Fiction Contest opens January 1st, 2018! Entries will be judged by flash fiction grand master, Bob Thurber. The winner will receive $300, a 1 year Duotrope membership, and will be published in Issue 19, Summer 2018.

The aim of flash fiction is short and sweet; something we can devour in one bite with a smile on our faces. Short fiction of up to 750 words will be accepted.

Scramble and submit your shortest stories soon … Early bird entry fee of $10 ends January 15th! Make your New Year’s resolution easy to keep, and submit to Pulp Literature’s annual Bumblebee Flash Fiction Contest!

Entry Form

Featured Author: JJ Lee

It’s December, and Pulp Literature Issue 17, Winter 2018 is here! Featured author JJ Lee’s ‘Desdemone’ opens our winter issue with an exquisite Edwardian haunting of a most personal kind.

Multiple-award-nominated memoirist JJ Lee is author of The Measure of a Man: The Story of a Father, a Son, and a Suit.  Every year, following in the footsteps of ‘Fireside Al’ Maitland, he  presents a Christmas ghost story on CBC Radio in British Columbia, and ‘Desdemone’ was his Christmas 2016 oeuvre.

Pulp Literature Issue 17, Winter 2018

We’re delighted to be able to bring this story to a print audience.  This is JJ’s third short story for Pulp Literature, the first being the dystopian Spec Fic piece ‘Built to Love’ in Issue 2 and the Yuletide Lovecraft, Moorcook, Nazi mashup ‘The Man in the Long Black Coat’ in Issue 8.

You can save $2 by pre-ordering our Winter 2018 issue here … and then get JJ to sign it for you when you pick it up at the Winter Launch Party, Monday Dec 11th from 5:00 – 7:00pm at the Cottage Bistro on Main St.

To get you in the JJ mood, here’s an excerpt from Issue 8’s ‘The Man in the Long Black Coat’, a holiday story with a Lovecraftian twist:

 

The Man in the Long Black Coat

A Chthonic Christmas Tale by JJ Lee

Silesia
December 1944

I don’t remember if Mother’s eyes said it or if she spoke the words, “He’s just a boy.” I do remember feeling anger and burning shame.  I was eleven years old, the eldest. Father had been gone for years.  The weekly newsreel Die Deutsche Wochenschau showed boys my age working in factories, making shells and gun parts.  In school we were told to be “slim and strong, swift as greyhounds, tough as leather, and hard as Krupp steel.”  I thought I was until I saw Mother’s eyes that night in the winter of 1944.

Herr Mundt didn’t care.  He had arrived from the larger, Lower Silesian town of G______ in search of what he called ‘recruits.’  He dressed in the makeshift manner of the Volkssturm, the People’s Army.  He wore scuffed and muddy railroad boots, brown breeches, and an armband over his grey coat sleeve.  On his collar, Herr Mundt had pinned officer pips.  He topped his head with the kind of hat a butcher would wear.  His attire was theatrical, ersatz, outlandish, wildly officious, and, because he seemed so out of control, menacing.  From his gaze I wanted to hide.

“He has five minutes to gather warm clothes and boots, if he has any,” said Herr Mundt.

He stepped back into the snow and shadows and strode off in the direction of the neighbours.  Mother shut the door.  My legs trembled as I climbed up the stairs and went into the bedroom.  I took off my pyjamas and folded them.  I tucked them under my pillow.  I began to put on as much clothes as I could.  I stuffed more warm things into a canvas bag.  I went to the other side of the bed and leaned down to kiss Lena, my sister, on her forehead.  Her eyes opened.

“You should be asleep,” I said.

“Where are you going?”

“I don’t know.”

“Take this.”

She pulled from under the covers a tin soldier, my oldest, most treasured toy.

“Where did you find it?”  I fought the urge to snatch it from her and I held out my hand.  She put it in my palm.  I saw the chipped paint on its shako, the blue on its tunic nearly worn through from play, the bent rifle, and the blankness of its face.  It made me think of Father.

“Keep it until I come back.”

I tucked her in, kissed her again, and went downstairs.  Mother said, “You can hide in the forest.”

“I don’t think they will let me.”

A pistol cracked.  A woman’s wail cut through the night.  A minute later, Herr Mundt thumped on our door.  “Frau Steiner.”

Mother clambered into the cellar and came back up holding hunting boots.  “They’re still too big,” I said.

“It doesn’t matter.  You need boots.”

“Frau Steiner.”  Herr Mundt hammered on the door.  I put them on.  I didn’t have time to say goodbye to Mother.

I stumbled after Herr Mundt to a small truck idling in front of the church.  He opened the back and waved his pistol.  I climbed in.  Three other boys from the village — Jens, Rudy, and Zeydl — sat shivering on the side benches.

“Stay in here until we let you out.  If any of you try to run, you will wish you hadn’t.”  Herr Mundt shut us in and we rode without speaking.  At first I could hardly see, but my eyes adjusted to the dimness.  The walls were wood slats with no space between them.  A tarpaulin covered the top.  In one corner, there was a small tear that flapped in the wind.  Through it fell the palest light from the night sky …

Read the rest of the story in Pulp Literature Issue 8, Autumn 2015.

 

Averting Writer’s Vertigo

Sometimes we go a bit crazy with the work, and for a while there’s no vertigo and everything is fine. We’re in final edits for one project, another is in development, and a third is at 30,000 words.  And then, without warning, the cliffs of story loom above and descend below. It all seems too much. We think, maybe there’s an easier way to live. (And of course there are many easier ways, but we don’t write because it’s easy.)

Vertigo. It seems like a long way down.

We take a day off. A month. And pretty soon we’re calling it writers’ block and scowling at
the laundry (or equivalent) which somehow takes over our creative spirit and becomes central to life. Don’t ask me why I picked laundry here. Okay, maybe I’m waxing a bit autobiographical.

Four steps to help avert writing vertigo

  1. Write or say aloud one sentence that describes your ideal career. (Resist getting all writerly-ironic or apologetic about this.) For example, “I am a world-class fantasy writer, and I reward my many readers’ expectations with pure entertainment in two published books a year.”
  2. Identify the project that most advances that career.
  3. Ask, what’s the smallest, certain step forward I can take towards that goal?  For example, identify the darkest hour and hero’s sacrifice. Set a timer for 10, 20 or 40 minutes. Do the thing. Then leave it. Now, everything else done that day is gravy.
  4. Next day, back to step one.

I mean, there’s still going to be laundry. But clean laundry and a happy writers’ heart? Not a bad outcome for a better today.

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

Mel Anastasiou writes The Fairmount Manor Mysteries series, starring Mrs Stella Ryman, The Hertfordshire Pub Mysteries series, starring Spencer Stevens, and is Acquisitions Editor with Pulp Literature Press.

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